No Turning Back
“13 So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-15 NLT
Sometimes I wonder what the writers of the bible thought of as they penned their letters. I wonder what Peter was thinking as he wrote his letter to the churches. More specifically, I wonder what he thought as he wrote the passage above from1 Peter 1:13-15. I wonder if his focus was mainly on thinking about the problems the churches were facing at the time, or if his mind wandered back to his own walk with Jesus.
When I write or teach others about Jesus, my mind often wanders back to my journey. When I teach, I often think of examples that would help stir imaginations of the listeners whether it is an example from my life or someone else’s. Could Peter be like me? Maybe. Maybe not.
I know this is only speculation, but I don’t think it too much of a stretch to imagine that as Peter wrote these words, he may have sat back and reflected on his own journey. I think he may have pondered the time many years earlier when he was discouraged, tired and had lost his hope shortly after Jesus had gone to the cross. Maybe he thought of the time he tried to leave behind his life of following Jesus to go back to his old life of fishing.
Peter may have been recalling the time when Jesus rose from the grave and called him back from his own fears and failures. Peter may have thought of the time when he was sitting with his friends on small boat on theSea of Galileefishing after Jesus was crucified. Peter was sitting on the boat regretting that he didn’t show more courage when he stood up for Jesus. If only he had been more courageous. If only he was bolder. If only he stood more firmly on his convictions. He recalled the embarrassment and bitterness of denying Jesus three different times. Then Peter would recall the pain of hearing the rooster’s crow. After that day he denied Jesus, whenever Peter heard a rooster’s crow, it was never the same. Every crowing of a rooster would serve as a painful reminder He would carry the burden of guilt as he betrayed his Lord, just like he assured Jesus he wouldn’t. But then the Savior came to meet him. Peter remembered when Jesus approached him with grace and called him back to follow God despite his fears and failures.
By the way, most (if not all) of Peter’s most notable failures came when he was already a believer! Just because he was a Christ follower, didn’t mean that he had “arrived.” This puts to rest the idea that we need to “get things together before we come to God.” Throughout his ministry, Peter’s foot often found its way into his mouth. He (like you and I) still needed God’s grace long after he first encountered Jesus.
As the elder, Peter wrote these words to the church, “Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then…” I wonder if he was speaking not only to the church, but also to remind himself. “Don’t let your fears and failures paralyze you and keep you from reaching your potential for God.” I think Peter was reminded of his own story. He thought, “C’mon guys… don’t let your fears and past failures keep you from reaching God’s best for your life. I almost gave it all up. A guy I thought was my friend named Judas did give it all up. Don’t be like him.” Then he’d write, “15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
When he says this, Peter is not telling the church that they need to be morally perfect, but rather that they needed to be submitted to being set apart for God. Earlier he tells them to “live as God’s obedient children.”
I have two children. I know that it is hard to be an obedient child. I know there are many, many times that my kids don’t feel like doing as I tell them. There are times that they are set apart. We set them apart from playing near the street because we know it is dangerous. We set them apart from playing too much video games or eating too much candy and ice cream. They think they know better than mom and dad… even though they don’t. Still, they need to be our obedient children in order to be set apart by us.
In the end, kids need to learn to submit to what mom and dad tell them to do because, in the end, mom and dad have their best interest in mind. Peter gently teaches the church that like children, they’ll need to learn to obey their Heavenly Father, because He knows best. Peter encourages them that they should not turn back in their journey with God. By speaking to them, he reminds me that I should not turn back either. Too many believers settle for turning back to their old lives rather than pressing forward as “God’s obedient children.” I want to be one that continues to be one of “God’s obedient children.”
Holy Spirit I want to be one that continues to be one of “God’s obedient children.” Increase my boldness, strength, and obedience to live a life that is pleasing to You. Amen.