We’re reading the first epistle of Peter over two weeks, with brief explanations and applications. The Bible text (NIV 2011) is in blue, so you can tell what bits are Scripture and what bits are my explanations.
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. Focus on the eternal benefit, not the temporary suffering.
14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. Rather than worrying about fitting in with this world—fit in with God’s plan! Don’t concern yourself with what temporary status you’ve lost, but focus on the eternal status you’ve gained.
15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written in Leviticus: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Most of the time we’re worried about being like everyone else, because we know that we’re being judged. How we talk. How we look. How we act towards others. But instead, focus on being like God. He’s the one whose judgement is important.
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. Remember that you don’t belong here, you belong to God. And also, remember what it cost God to make it that way.
18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. You are the beneficiary of Christ’s sacrifice. And you are the beneficiary of Christ’s resurrection.
21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. So live in light of that, not in light of the world’s expectations.
22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.
As Jesus said, that’s how people will know that you belong to God: that you love one another. The fact that you’re feeling different is a good sign: because you are different. You’ve been changed.
23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
Again, weigh up this temporary existence full of perishable things—weigh this against the enduring promise of that which is imperishable. As the prophet Isaiah said:
24 “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.
Do you get how privileged, how undeservedly favoured you are? That God would do all of this for you? Good. Because that should then motivate you to resist the temptation to fit back in with the world around you, but instead, to pursue God’s values; to embrace your identity as a minority group in this world; to try all the more to live differently from the rest of society.