Okay. So, just hang on. I got it. Okay. So, you know how you’ve gotta … every now and then, you have to clean out your inbox? You know, it’s just … And so, I printed out a bunch of emails. I just need to sort through them here. It’ll just take me a second. Let me see here because there’s just so much stuff. Here’s another AARP invitation. I’m not ready for that. Let’s see. Oh, well, here’s one that may be interesting to you all. This is an article headlined — “Yes, Christians Are Being Persecuted in America. Here’s How We Can Respond. Despite what some may claim, Christians are being persecuted in America. It may be hard to hear, but it’s true.” Okay. So, there’s that one. Oh, here’s another one. This is from July. Subject line — “Canceled Again. We knew it was just a matter of time before another woke company canceled us, but we didn’t see this one coming.” And it goes on and on and on. This company that canceled them literally did cancel their contract. “There are a group of woke left-wing tech elitists that, just like Twitter, Facebook, and The New York Times, and Snopes and many other companies that have attacked us … They simply can’t abide our work that criticizes their left-wing orthodoxy.” So, they orchestrated their attack in a way to do the most possible damage. Okay. Here’s another one. It’s subject line — “Is Persecution Coming? As the days get darker spiritually, as our liberties are being trampled and chipped away, as Christians are being categorized by our culture as close-minded bigots, it’s not hard to foresee a future where religious persecution is intensified if things continue on their current trajectory. It’s only a matter of time before things go from uncomfortable to unthinkable.”
So, let’s file that away over here. And but, you know, that reminds me of a bumper sticker that I saw here recently. I think we have it here for you. It says, “If you’re offended by Jesus, then you won’t like me.” And I’m driving behind this car and I’m thinking, “Okay, what are you trying to say? You know, I mean, yeah, that’s true. But is that what you want to lead with? That’s your opening statement? ‘You’re not going to like me. Here we go.’”
And you know that bumper sticker and all of these articles, they kind of reflect a growing sense, I think, in our culture that we’re on the outs, and people respond to that in different ways. And I’ve heard some people say, “Well, you know, Jesus flipped over the tables of the moneychangers in the temple. So, we need to start flipping some stuff. Jesus called us to stand up for truth.” Some people point out that, you know, they think the church survives and thrives under persecution, and the American church is too soft. So, we need a little bit of persecution to get things going better. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. They kind of take a stoic approach that, “mind over matter.” If I just have the right perspective on this, it’s going to be a whole lot easier.
But when I look at I Peter, I see a different response to persecution. I’ve been thinking a lot about this as we’ve been going through this book. And actually, I tell you, what I found in 1 Peter isn’t necessarily what I expected. I’ve been through it before, but going through it this time, there were some things that really got my attention. In fact, I’ve ended up recommending this book to almost everybody I meet. I met the father of my daughter’s boyfriend a few weeks ago, and we got to talking and he said, “You know, all this chaos in our culture these days has kind of pulled me away from the church.” And I said, “Read 1 Peter. Take the time and mark it up. Read it. It has a lot to say.”
And it has a lot to say to us because in 1 Peter, we learn a different way to think about persecution. Throughout this letter, Peter explains that we’re chosen exiles in this world, and because of that, the world finds us strange. So, we live here with a tension, an essential irony that while we’re scorned as strangers and exiles in this immediate world, we are chosen by our heavenly Father to live for ultimate beauty and peace. And this tension between the immediate and the ultimate builds until you get to this section in 1 Peter. He’s been telling us all along that we cut against the grain of the world. But as a carpenter with a sharp power saw, cutting a knotty board, every now and then, the blade will bind up and jump out and sting us. And Peter tells us what we should do and shouldn’t do when we feel that sting. So, we’ll look a little bit at this irony that goes throughout 1 Peter, and then we’ll talk about the do’s and don’ts specifically of this passage and then what it means for us.
So, step back for a minute and kind of think about where we’ve come so far in 1 Peter. When you first start reading this letter, it’s easy to get lost in all of the heavy theological language. It did that with me. But once you spend some time with it, a dynamic picture emerges, and it really all comes back to that phrase in the first sentence when Peter says that he’s writing to chosen exiles. Matt, Ryan, Connor, Peter, everybody that’s preached on this book has pointed that out. So, on the one hand, we’re exiles. And an exile … The Greek word there is a “parepi-demos.” “Demos” — we get democracy from that. So, “para demos,” “alongside the community.” That’s what it literally means. We’ve said that we’re resident aliens, foreigners, strangers. We’re here with the people of this world, but we’re not part of them. We’re different. But on the other hand, we’re elect. We’re chosen. We’re called by God to be his children. So, being both exiles and chosen sets up a tension. This is what Jesus said to his disciples.
“You’re in the world, but you’re not of the world.”
It’s an irony, really. And an irony is an expression or a truth or a story that seems deliberately contrary to what you’d expect. Two things that are somewhat, we think, in conflict, but they’re really not.
Os Guinness explains the importance of irony for Christians. He says,
“Irony, ironically, is a profoundly biblical theme that does not figure strongly in the thinking of most Christians. Yet no other religion rivals the Christian faith in providing such a foundation for a strong view of irony…. Irony, in short, is not merely a subject for writers or cultural commentators; it is a key part of the Christian understanding of life.”
You find it everywhere. And think about it,
“If you find your life, you’ll lose it. If you lose your life, you’ll find it. The last will be first, and the first shall be last. Let him who would be the greatest among you be the least of all.”
So, this idea of being chosen exiles sets up this irony, this tension. It’s like winding up a watch spring that drives the whole movement. This tension drives the movement of this book. As far as the world is concerned, in this immediate world, we’re strangers, out-of-place misfits. But ultimately, from God’s perspective, we’re chosen, redeemed, a royal priesthood. This contrast of the immediate and the ultimate fills 1 Peter.
So, you know, if you do a word cloud, you take every word in 1 Peter and you look at it all together and you make the words bigger or smaller, depending on how frequently they appear in the book, you get something kind of interesting. Take a look here. The gray words are the words that refer to this immediate world; the yellow words talk about the ultimate reality; and the blue words are what we should do about it. So, when you look at this, what’s on your mind? Look at there. “Suffer” is right smack in the middle. But that’s just immediate. Look at all the things around it — “Glory, grace, love, holy” — all of these words that point to the real, ultimate reality that God has for us.
Christian mindfulness then is remembering all those words in yellow — our home, the ultimate, the mighty and merciful gifts from our Father. But if we focus too much on the immediate, all the stuff in gray, we may forget the ultimate and we’ll make ourselves feel defeated and bitter in this world. And what’s worse, we’ll miss out on the motivation for all of the blue words, the actions that we’re supposed to take, the way that we can show this world how good God is.
So, let’s see how this works out in do’s and don’ts, specifically in this passage, in chapter 4 starting in verse 12. First, Peter says,
“Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”
Don’t be surprised. It’s not strange. Those actually in the Greek are pretty much the same word. It’s the same word that we saw last week when it said that the world thinks we’re strange when we don’t behave the way they do. It comes from the word “xenos,” you know, foreign, alien, something that doesn’t belong. Don’t think that the persecution that you’re suffering is out of place. It’s something that would be surprising or strange. If I see a dog driving a car down Wade Hampton, that’s strange. This isn’t strange. This is what you should expect.
Now, what kind of trial does Peter have in mind here? We know that Jesus said,
“Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.”
Those two words, revile and persecute. “Persecute” there is a word that refers to physical harm. “Revile,” obviously, is a verbal thing, a verbal insult. You have those two ideas, a verbal and the physical. Peter never uses the word for a physical persecution. All of the words he uses have to do with the verbal. He says “revile,” as we see that same word Jesus uses “malign,” which is actually the word “blaspheme,” but it can apply to people as well as God. To slander, in other words, to talk against someone, and to insult. They’re all very close synonyms. So, if Peter’s only talking about verbal persecution, does that mean that what he’s talking about is he’s trying to tell us it really shouldn’t be a big deal? You know, sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me? So, don’t get too bent out of shape about the words. No, that’s not the tone of what Peter’s saying at all. And words can hurt. They can do damage. It can cost you your job, your relationships. They can hurt a whole lot more than just your feelings. So, he’s taking this seriously. In fact, he’s comparing them to Jesus’s suffering. And Peter is not saying here that we ought to think that we are two different standards for physical persecution and verbal persecution. It was all the same, all connected with Christ, that those two things are linked. In fact, the principle is the same for both. It’s the result of the inevitable collision between chosen exiles and the world. We shouldn’t be surprised by any of it.
So, how should we respond? We shouldn’t be surprised.
“But” (verse 13) “rejoice insofar as you share in Christ’s sufferings.”
So, do rejoice. Now, you know, we say that a lot. That’s a Christian kind of expression — “Rejoice in that.” That’s hard. Suffering isn’t fun. And when you read this, you’re thinking, “Is Peter saying that we’re supposed to get into some sort of mystical Zen state where we can walk on hot coals and sleep on a bed of nails and like it?” Because that’s almost what you think it takes to rejoice in suffering. No, that’s not what he’s talking about. He’s talking about something far more profound and really more practical. He gives us the reason in verse 13.
“Insofar as you share in Christ sufferings [and he continues] that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”
What he’s doing here … Revealed glory, that’s part of the ultimate even though right here we’re stuck in suffering.
And think about this. Jesus suffered. Jesus, the Son of God, the ultimate Savior of the world suffered. And when you bear his name, you will suffer too, but you are also connected to the ultimate. You also have a home that’s permanent and glorious. So, when you go through suffering, remember the connection to the ultimate. This is where Christian mindfulness comes in again. We rejoice because our mind is not on the immediate suffering, but it’s on the ultimate glory of God. The suffering is a reminder — There’s more going on here. Don’t stop with just the suffering.
Then he goes on. In verse 14, he expands on this.
“If you’re insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”
It’s kind of interesting here because God takes up a big piece of that ultimate and gives it to us now by giving us his Spirit. So, it’s not even something really that we need to try to just imagine. It’s right here. It’s with us. We have God’s presence. So, that’s another reason why we can rejoice now.
So, let’s go on. Verse 15. Peter says,
“But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.”
So, don’t suffer for these reasons. What’s he getting at here? Well, it seems a little odd that he’s shifting gears. He’s talking about suffering for crimes where it would be legitimate. And really, the point that he’s trying to make is “look, if you suffer like that, it’s just part of the normal course of things.” It doesn’t have this connection to the ultimate. Earned suffering is kind of in a different category. Now, he’s not saying here (and you got to remember this) that if you are guilty of any of these crimes, you’re on your own; God’s not going to help you. No, that’s not it. God’s mercy covers sins like this, like any sin. That’s why we need the blood of Christ. We’re guilty sinners. We know that. Peter is not trying to change that. What he’s really saying, though, here is that when you suffer from the name of Christ, that ought to be a reminder to you. That unearned suffering is a sign of our ultimate home.
Now, even though Peter’s main point here is not these four words, four crimes that he mentions, there is something kind of interesting in the list that I think we ought to mention. Look at that list,
“a murderer, a thief, an evildoer (or a criminal, kind of a generic term), or a meddler.”
Okay. One of these things is not like the others. A murderer, a thief, an evildoer, you’re going to do hard time for that stuff. But a meddler? What do you mean? What are you talking about? And that’s really an interesting word in the Greek. It doesn’t occur anywhere else, not just anywhere else in the New Testament. It doesn’t recur anywhere else in Greek literature. Peter kind of makes it up on his own. He takes two words, and he slams them together to get this concept across. It’s “allotri-episkopos.” “Allo” just means “other.” You know something that’s other, one another. In fact, all of the one-another passages have that word. Basically, that’s one another.
But “episkopos,” that’s the word that we translate “bishop, overseer.” So, what he’s saying is you shouldn’t be an overseer of other people’s business. That’s why they translate it “meddler.” And that’s an interesting idea because being an overseer. Peter is the only New Testament writer … This is another one of Peter’s only’s here … He’s the only New Testament writer that calls Christ “the Overseer of our souls” at the end of chapter 2, same word. And he says to elders in chapter 5 that you should exercise oversight in the right way; again, same word. So, being an overseer is not at all a bad thing, but when you try to be the boss of one another, to get up in everybody else’s business, that becomes a problem. And what’s interesting here, I think this particular word is a stand-in here in this list for mistreatment of others, all kinds of mistreatment because how are we supposed to treat one another? We talked about it last week — love one another, show hospitality to one another without grumbling, use your gifts to serve one another, not boss one another around. Now, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t time for the right kind of rebuke and correction. I bet that’s not what Peter is talking about here. He’s talking about not treating people the wrong way. If they get upset because you’ve treated people the wrong way, that’s not the kind of suffering that’s going to connect you to the ultimate. That’s just something you did, and you blew it.
So, if we shouldn’t suffer that way, we should, in verse 16, we should also not be ashamed.
“If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God.”
Don’t be ashamed as if you’re doing something wrong, like those other things — a murderer, a thief, evildoer, a meddler. Don’t be ashamed but glorify God in that name. Okay. That’s kind of like rejoicing again. It’s another connection to the ultimate. It’s another reason for Christian mindfulness.
And Peter gives us more here. He gives us a reason why we can glorify God because in effect, he’s saying there’s more going on here than you’re suffering. There’s a bigger plan going on. How does he get that? Well, look at verses 17 and 18.
“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel?”
And he’s quoting here kind of a paraphrase of Proverbs 11.
“If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
Well, that’s a little bit of a tricky passage because when you when you first read this, it sounds like time for judgment to begin at the household.
What are you saying, Peter? Are you saying that it’s time for the church to clean house and get rid of all the sinners in the congregation? No, that’s not what he’s saying. Is he saying in verse 18, “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will happen to the ungodly and the sinners?” In other words, okay, you know, you Christians, if you’re living the wrong way, you may get saved, but it’s going to be by the skin of your teeth. That’s not really what he’s saying either.
He’s connecting this back to an Old Testament idea of the judgment of God ultimately coming to set things right. It’s a grand master plan. You see it in Malachi 3, the first couple of verses?
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, saith the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like the fullers’ soap.”
So, this move toward judgment starts at the house of God, but it continues out from there. When we say judgment at the house of God, it’s not that God is judging his children for their individual sins. That’s not what He’s talking about. It’s not as if, boy, you’d better be careful. Again, this … God’s going to get you for that. And he’s not saying, “By the way, hey, look, you think it was bad for you guys? Just wait till you see what’s going to happen to the other guys. Yeah, then they’re going to get theirs.” He’s not talking about that kind of a vengeful attitude. What he’s saying is that God is moving toward justice, toward setting things right, and our suffering here, our collision with the world is part of that great turning to reset creation and to make all things ready for his kingdom. There’s more going on here than just what we can see. There’s more going on here than what’s just happening at this moment. Peter is saying that we should trust God’s design, he will set things right, and that our suffering is proof of his plan.
So, then he goes in verse 19 to wrap up this section and give a conclusion, I think, through this whole section of the book.
“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
Now, there are a few things here that stand out. First, notice that Peter says that we should entrust our souls to a faithful Creator. This is, again, one of Peter’s only statements. Peter’s the only New Testament writer that explicitly refers to God as a Creator. And we know he created the world, and we see that other places, but here he calls it out. He focuses on it. Why? He could have done all kinds of things here. “Entrust their souls to a faithful judge.” He could have said a lot, but he said “Creator.” And I think that’s to emphasize that God has designed all of this. This is part of the plan, and the word “entrust” is kind of a unique word, too. Well, it does happen to occur in other places in the New Testament, but it has this idea of committing something to someone for safekeeping, like a deposit in the bank. So, in effect, he’s saying that we should deposit our souls with God and then do good.
So, think about this. He says, “entrust your souls.” That’s a pointer to the ultimate. God is in control of all of this that’s happening here, and then doing good is our response here in the immediate. When we suffer, we should be mindful of God’s will, his master plan, and while we deposit our souls in his imperishable vault, we should be doing good in the very place that brings our suffering. That’s a powerful conclusion.
So, what does that mean for us? What should we do about it? I think there are three things that are worth noting here. First, we’ve talked about this. We should do good. Okay. That’s kind of general. You know, do good. Run along now. Do good. But Peter beaks it down for us. In fact, if you look (and this is one of the reasons why it’s worth marking up I Peter), I Peter is really an instruction manual for exiles, for us innocents abroad. It’s packed with imperatives, commands, instructions. Take a look at them all. It’s a long list. And obviously you’re not going to get all of those right now. There will not be a quiz on this, but this gives you an idea of the breadth of the instructions that are in this book. These are the things that exiles should be paying attention to. In other words, and Peter Hubbard has said this, Christian mindfulness doesn’t stay in the mind. It acts. And this is how it acts. Peter tells us that. So, doing good is all of those things.
Let’s break it down here a little bit to make it a little easier to digest. I think there’s six things maybe that stand out. We should be sober minded. We’ve seen that a few times. That means temperate, self-controlled, in possession of our faculties, have a level head, not fly off the handle — there’s a lot of expressions for this — not go to extremes, not be driven by whims, but be deliberate, intentional, thoughtful, to respond carefully to this immediate world.
We should next, honor everyone, and we’ve talked about this. Show respect to all people, not just those that are believers, that are of the household of faith, but to everyone.
And he says be subject to every human institution. This, again, is important because even though there are things in this immediate world that may be cumbersome or troublesome, Peter says be subject to every human institution.
Clothe yourselves with humility is the next one. Humility is important because we don’t know everything. We can’t see it all. We’re just one small person at a time. So, we should be humble.
We should love one another, which he repeats in one way or another many times in the book. And it’s interesting that one of the most important ways chosen exiles can do good is to love the other exiles. I think that may suggest that sometimes we have a hard time doing that.
And then we should fear God, which is the bedrock principle of all of this.
Let me give you another illustration for how this should work out. I want to read to you from a letter that an anonymous author wrote sometime around the year 200. So, this was early on in the history of the church. And there was an unbelieving man who had asked this author, “What’s up with these Christians? You know, where do they kind of fit? We know you’ve got Jews; you’ve got Greeks and all these other groups. Well, where do the Christians fit in all of this? Tell me about it.”
So, the author explains all of this. He says,
“For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of humanity by country, language, or custom. For nowhere do they live in cities of their own, nor do they speak some unusual dialect, nor do they practice an eccentric lifestyle. This teaching of theirs has not been discovered by the thought and reflection of ingenious men, nor do they promote any human doctrine, as some do. But while they live in both Greek and barbarian cities, as each one’s lot was cast, and follow the local customs and dress and food and other aspects of life, at the same time they demonstrate the remarkable and admittedly unusual character of their own citizenship. They live in their own countries, but only as aliens; they participate in everything as citizens and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign country is their fatherland, and every fatherland is foreign. They marry like everyone else, and have children, but they do not expose their offspring.”
(Do you know what that means, “expose”? That was the euphemism, really, that they had for the ancient practice of taking an unwanted newborn and leaving them out in the elements for whatever to happen, and they were exposing them to the elements. Christians didn’t do that.)
They share their wives but not their food. Oh, excuse me! It’s the other way around! I think I have an email that talks about that. Sorry about that.
“They share their food, but not their wives.
There we go. Probably woke everybody up on the livestream.
“They are ‘in the flesh,’ but they do not live ‘according to the flesh.’ They live on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws; indeed in their private lives they transcend the laws. They love everyone, and by everyone they are persecuted. They are unknown, yet they are condemned; they are put to death, yet they are brought to life. They are poor, yet they make many rich; they are in need of everything, yet they abound in everything. They are dishonored, yet they are glorified in their dishonor; they are slandered, yet they are vindicated. They are cursed, yet they bless; they are insulted, yet they offer respect. When they do good, they are punished as evildoers, and when they are punished, they rejoice as though brought to life. By the Jews they are assaulted as foreigners, and by the Greeks they are persecuted, yet those who hate them are unable to give a reason for their hostility.”
That’s powerful for the year 200. Christians today are still trying to explain how we relate to the world. I read recently about $100 million ad campaign that’s putting up billboards in major markets like New York and Las Vegas that feature Jesus as a rebel or an activist or the host of a dinner party. And when you look at this campaign, I mean, you kind of get under the hood a little, but they are trying to encourage believers to do good. But I don’t know whether it’s going to work or not. But I’ll tell you this — the best billboard for Jesus today is the same as it was back in the year 200. It’s our lives when we have a sober mind, honor everyone, are subject to every human institution, are humble, love each other, and fear God. That may not be as flashy as a Vegas billboard, but God, I think, is better served by flesh and blood than neon flash.
So, first of all, you do good. Second of all, we watch. We watch because our
“adversary, the devil [Peter, tells us in chapter 5 verse 8,] walks about as a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.”
And we also watch, because it’s so easy for us to be consumed with the immediate, all the stuff around us, that we lose sight of home and go astray.
Just last week, my brother-in-law got back from a trip to Seoul, South Korea, to visit his son and wife and new granddaughter. And when he came back, he told us about his visit to the Lotte Tower, which I had never heard of. It’s there in Seoul. It’s the sixth largest building in the world. And he said that he never worried about being lost in Seoul because wherever he was walking around the city, he could always look up and see that building and find his way home. It gave him his bearings. Now, imagine if a fog rolled into Seoul and obscured his vision of that tower. He may not know which way to go. You could get lost. And I think it’s easy for us to get lost in the fog of this immediate world and to forget what really matters, to not know which way to go. We need to watch for that. I mean, there may be some believers who wither under the weight of their sin and the fear of punishment, forgetting that God has already removed the weight of their sin. Jesus has already paid the price.
There may be some who begin to believe that persecution is strange, and it really shouldn’t be this way, and they need to do something to stop it. They may begin to see themselves as entitled owners instead of exiles. They may begin to find their identity, not in the glories of their home, but in causes and struggles here. They may stir up outrage, grievance, and fear to advance an agenda that has little value beyond this immediate world. They may begin to teach a different set of instructions than those 1 Peter gives us. They may sacrifice a sober mind for extremism, humility for hubris, and abandon love for the sake of power. And they may preach that Christians need to do more, or they need more, to do God’s work. More notoriety, more aggressive action, more power, more clout.
But read 1 Peter. What more could we ever need to do God’s work than what God has already given us — “an inheritance, imperishable, undefiled and unfading kept in heaven for us”? Watch for these things because they may be a sign that believers have lost sight of home and are wandering in the fog of this immediate mess.
And third, which is a direct antidote to that, we should remember home. It’s so easy to get lost in the cares and seductions of this immediate world. We worship a God we’ve never seen, and we long for a home we’ve never visited. It’s easy to get turned around and forget that this vile world is no friend to grace to help us on to God. It’s easy to get turned around because things are so backwards here. I’ve heard a few different people say that the Kingdom of God is an upside down kingdom.
Billy Graham explained it like this — That’s the reason (this upside-down kingdom)
“why the disciples to the world were misfits. To an upside-down person, a right-side up person seems upside down. To a sinner, a righteous person is an oddity and an abnormality. A Christian’s goodness is a rebuke to the [world]; his being right-side up is a reflection upon the worldling’s inverted position.”
This upside-down kingdom is one of God’s richest ironies. The way up is down. The way down is up. If you find your life, you’ll lose it. If you lose your life, you’ll find it. Our king chooses what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; what is weak to shame the strong; what is low and despised, even the things that are nothing, to bring to the nothing the things that are. And I’m so glad that God uses small, quiet, and feeble things because I am small and quiet and feeble. I too easily get discouraged and look for the nearest rock to hide under. Maybe sometimes you feel that way, too. And in this backwards world, sometimes I feel like I’m really never going to amount to much. Maybe you feel the same way sometimes. That’s why Peter wrote this letter. And that’s why we’re all here today because we can’t practice Christian mindfulness alone. We forget too soon! I know I do.
We need to take Peter’s words and remind each other, remind each other that as chosen exiles we have a beautiful home, where moths and rust can’t chew up the treasures, to remind us innocents abroad that the Kingdom of God is a treasure yet hidden, as small as a mustard seed that’s growing quietly, steadily to give comfort and shade to all creation. We need to remind each other that God’s economy doesn’t depend on fading gold bars and cheap silver trinkets, but on the precious blood of Christ, freely poured out for us all. We should remind each other that, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians,
“we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
So, sing now, you exiles, you chosen exiles! Sing and rejoice to God and one another! We are strangers with a home, beggars with riches, feeble souls with great strength. Sing, you chosen race, you royal priesthood, a holy nation of people for his own possession! Proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light! Rejoice, for you, who are once not a people, are now God’s people! Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy! Praise your God, and then do good!