Having lived in Japan for 20 years, I sometimes feel like a man without a country. Of course I am American, but having been out of country so long, I am totally out of touch with the culture there and how things have changed over the years.
On the other hand, even having been in Japan so long, I am in many ways still an outsider. Or as we say in Japanese, a “gaijin.”
But maybe that’s not such a bad thing, because I don’t belong to this world. Not really. And neither do you if you’re a Christian. Christ has purchased us at a great price, not with silver or gold, but with his own blood. (1:18-19)
And he bought us to be his own people.
Like I said before, one of the key words in I Peter is “exiles” or “strangers.” We don’t belong here. And Peter goes into great detail as to the implications of this.
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1:13-16)
In short, because we are exiles and strangers, prepare yourself for the things that are to come. There will be hardships and even persecution for following Christ. But don’t falter because of that. Don’t look back longingly on your old life. Rather, set your hope on the grace you will receive when Christ comes back. What grace? The grace of eternal life. Of things that will never perish, spoil, or fade, kept in heaven for you. (1:4)
And because of that hope we have, don’t conform yourself to the evil desires that would destroy you; conform yourself to God. Make it your goal to become more like him. To be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.
Our lives are so often broken because of sin. And by clinging to sin, our lives become even more broken. But when we let go of our sin and of doing things our way, and when we turn to God, doing things his way, our lives are made whole and complete.
And on the day of judgment, we will be rewarded.
So as Peter writes,
Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. (1:17)
What does that mean to live as strangers here?
It means to live each day in faith, hope, and love. Faith and hope that God will do all that he has promised (1:21). And loving each other as he commanded us. (1:22)
It means to remember that the life that we have is something eternal. Life here on earth is short, but it is only preparation for what is to come after death. (1:23-25)
It means to get rid of the poisons that we drink in each day, poisons that the people of this world drink in daily, the poisons of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander (2:1). These poisons and other sinful desires wage war against our souls and will destroy us if we continue to drink them in. (2:11)
Instead, we are to drink in the milk of God’s Word so that we can grow as his children. (2:2)
Most of all, it means to come to the One that this world has rejected. To come to Jesus as people who belong to his house. To be a part of that spiritual house he is building. To be his priests, offering spiritual sacrifices to God in our speech, in our actions, in our lives. (2:4-8)
And as we do, we will shine his light to a world trapped in darkness. (2:9, 12)
So remember who you are.
You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (2:9-10)