I’m back in the office today after taking a little time off following the joyful rush of Easter. During my time away, my family and I made a visit to UNC Asheville, where my daughter will be enrolling as a freshman in the fall. It was exciting to think about her beginning this new adventure. But from a dad’s perspective, it was a little scary, too. One hopes that you’ve equipped your child with the strength of character and the “sense of self” that will enable her to thrive, even in those times when pressures and temptations offer opportunities to get pulled off track. And when you stop and think about it, isn’t that the hope that all of us have – not only for our children – but for ourselves? Don’t we want to be the kind of people who can “grow into” everything that God desires for us?
Enter today’s New Testament reading (1 Peter 1:1-12). In an opening verse (v. 2) that we might be tempted to rush right past so that we can get to “the good stuff,” the Apostle Peter addresses us; and in so doing, he reminds us of the identity that allows us to handle anything that this day, or this week, or any other new experience might throw at us.
First, we are “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Do you remember how good it feels to be “chosen“? Picked for the team? Wanted as a partner? Desired as a friend? Well, according to the scriptures, God the Father has chosen (picked, wanted, desired) you. You are not disposable, unnoticed, or second-rate. Instead, you are “hand-selected” by the God of the universe to be His special possession. But that’s not all…
All of this has happened “through the sanctifying work of the Spirit.” You are “made holy” — not by virtue of your hard work at “being good” (which is a relief, since none of us are very good at that anyway) — but through the activity of God’s Spirit in your life. Even when you can’t perceive it — and even when you’re not sure how to cooperate with it — you are still being strengthened, shaped, and guided so that you can fulfill the purpose for which God has chosen you. And what is that purpose?
You are “chosen” and “made holy” so that you can “be obedient to Jesus Christ.” God desires to conform you to the image of Jesus. Elsewhere, Paul writes that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Eph. 2:10). Everything that we face has the potential to advance His work within us, if we remember whose we are and what resources He has placed at our disposal.
Of course, we may never do this perfectly, but that’s why the last part of Peter’s address is so significant. We are also “sprinkled by his blood.” The good news of this passage — indeed, the good news of the gospel — is that our identity depends not upon what we accomplish, but upon what has been accomplished for us: our redemption has been provided through the shed blood of Christ. And if we will rest in that and remember that, there is nothing we will encounter that can ultimately overcome the love and the purpose for which God has chosen us. No wonder Peter ends his address by saying, “Grace and peace be yours in abundance”!
May you know yourself to be “addressed” today as a chosen, made holy, obedient, and forgiven child of God. And may this identity overflow in gratitude for every blessing and faith for every trial.