Two weeks ago, we were faced with the fact that we are aliens. We read in Hebrews 13:14 that, as Christians, as followers of Christ, this world is not our home. Our real home is heaven and we are eagerly waiting for the day that God takes us to be with Him in our eternal, Heavenly home – where there are no more tears, no more sickness, no more pain, no more death. It will truly be home sweet home.

But that day hasn’t come yet. We are still living here as aliens in this sin-filled world. So what do we do in the meantime? How do we live as aliens in this world until Christ takes us home? That’s the question we set out to answer two week ago as we began looking at the books of first and second Peter.

Now the first thing we discovered, as we looked at 1 Peter chapter 1 was that God wants us to be holy. In other words, God wants us to be different. Why? Because when you’re different, you can make a difference. When we live in the awesome power of God, we will be very different from the world, (we’re gonna stick out like sore thumbs) but that’s exactly what will give us opportunity to make a difference in the world.

So this morning I want to pick up where we left off two weeks ago – kinda on that theme of being different in order to make a difference, because Peter talks a little bit more about this in chapters two and three.

I want to start at 1 Peter chapter 2, verse 9… Now I realize we’re hopping over a lot of good stuff in the verses that come before this, but I’m going to leave that to you to fill in the blanks. You can consider that your homework for this week – to read the verses that come before verse 9. But to give you a quick summary, Peter is talking about how God has chosen us, how He has redeemed us, and how He has given us life. And now he says in verse 9:

You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

 10 “Once you had no identity as a people;
now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
now you have received God’s mercy.”

 11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” [or as some older translations put it “as aliens and strangers in the world”] to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

1 Peter 2:9-12

Now there is a lot in that passage, so let’s maybe go through it a bit at a time. Let’s start with part one of verse 9.

You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession.

1 Peter 2:9a

Sometimes I think we forget just how privileged we are. As Christians, we are a chosen people. We didn’t choose God – God chose us. We weren’t seeking out God – God was seeking us out.  Look at Ephesians 1:3-8…. This is a great passage!

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

Ephesians 1:3-8

 

That’s incredible. God has done everything for us. God loved us. God chose us. God adopted us. God purchased our freedom. God forgave our sins. God showered us with kindness. We didn’t do anything! All we can do it stand in awe and accept God’s marvelous grace.

You know, sometimes our egos get a little inflated and we start thinking that God loves so much because of how good we are, or because of how much we’ve served Him over the years. Sometimes we even get to the point where we think things like “Boy, God, you’re sure lucky to have good Christian like me on your side.” But that’s just nonsense – the only reason that God loves so much is simply because He decided to. As it says in verse 5 “This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.”

Some of you might be familiar with the Casting Crowns song titled “Who Am I”. And the lyrics basically pose the question, Who are we that God should love us like He does?

And the chorus answers that question by saying…

Not because of who I am

But because of what You’ve done

Not because of what I’ve done

But because of who You are

God chose us – not because of who we are or because of what we’ve done – but simply because “This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.”

And that’s another important point to remember – that loving you gives God great pleasure. God doesn’t “reluctantly” love you… He loves loving you!

In contrast to our over-inflated egos thinking that God loves us because of how great we are, probably more often we go the other way, thinking that God must hate us because of how terrible we are. Quite often, especially after we sin for the umpteenth time, we think, “God, how can you even put up with me!? I know the Bible says you love me, but it’s gotta be just by a thread.”

But that’s totally not true. There is no reluctancy to God’s love. Loving you is one of His favorite things. Loving you gives Him great pleasure. Isn’t that incredible?

It is because of His great love – and ONLY because his great love – that we are  a chosen people, royal priests, a holy nation – God’s very own possession. What a privileged people we are!

And it’s because of that, we can serve as a testimony to others of God’s amazing goodness and grace.  That’s why Peter says, after telling us that we are a chosen people, royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession…

…As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

That’s our role as aliens. That’s why God has us remain on earth for a time – to be a living testimony of God’s amazing goodness and grace.

Sometimes you have to wonder why God would use people – with all our imperfections and all our faults and all our short-comings – why would God use people as his one and only method of bringing the good news to the nations of the world? You know, He could written the whole Bible out in the clouds. He could have sent a mass email from God.com. He could have beamed the four spiritual laws right into everyone’s brains. But He didn’t do that. He chose to use people.

And I think its because it’s one thing to know the information of the Gospel – but its another to see it in action in somebody’s life.

Think of the person in your life that has had the biggest impact on your spiritual walk. Who’s been your greatest spiritual mentor? Got that person in your mind? Now, I could be wrong, but I’ll bet that it wasn’t the person that just talked to you the most about God – but I’ll bet it was the person that you saw live out the Gospel right in front of you. I’ll bet it was the person who’s life talked to you much louder than their words.

You know, we can quote the whole Bible to our friends and neighbors, but if they can’t see that it makes a difference in our lives – I really doubt they’re going to buy it. But on the other hand, when they see us live holy lives – different lives – they’re gonna think “Hmmm, this following Christ business is the real deal.”

That’s why God decided that it would be His chosen people, His royal priests, His holy nation, His very own possessions – that would go out into their neighborhoods and into their communities and into their towns and into their cities and be a living testimony of the Gospel.

He wanted people to be able to look at their neighbors and say “Wow! If God can love that guy, then maybe God can love me? If God can change that’s guys life, maybe God can change mine too. If there is hope for him – then maybe there’s hope for me.”

Are you seeing the crucial role we have as aliens in this world?

It really isn’t what we say to our friends and neighbors, it’s our alien-like lives that proclaim the good news. And I think that’s why Peter gives us this warning in verse 11…

 11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. 1 Peter 1:11-12

Peter’s telling us, “Don’t let the desires of this world lure you into living just the same as everybody else. Be careful to live properly – be careful to live differently among your unbelieving neighbors so that your life can be a living testimony for God.

Its right after these verses that Peter gives us some concrete examples of how we are to live differently. These are actually the verses that Gord from Camp Little Red was talking about last week.

You might remember that, when Gord was speaking, that he talked about all those different “pod”s – “pod” standing for Pray for, Obey, Don’t Sin. And he applied those pods to the Government, your Boss, Your Wife, and Your Husband. We are to pray for them, obey them, but don’t sin because of them.

Well these are the examples that Peter gives us in chapters 2 & 3 of 1 Peter of how we are to be holy – how we are to be different from the world in the way we relate to these different people because we are aliens.

And while I don’t want to re-preach the same things that Gord shared, I do want us to take a look at one of these examples to see how they fit into this whole “living differently as a living testimony to the people around us”.

So let’s take a look at verse 13…

 For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state,14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.

 15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. 16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. 17 Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.

1 Peter 2:13-17

Now I know how hard it is at times to respect our government. They do a lot of things that we don’t agree with. But if you think our government is difficult to respect, think about the government that was in power when Peter wrote this. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact date that Peter wrote this letter, but most scholars agree that it was probably in about 64-65 AD. And that’s very significant when you realize what was going on at that time.

In July of 64 AD, much of the city of Rome burned to the ground. Nero was the emperor at that time and many people believed that He was responsible for the fire. They figured that He had wanted to make room for all of his building projects and so He burned down the existing buildings. (That’s where we get the idea that Nero was gleefully fiddling while Rome burned.) The fires burned for about 8 days and Rome was absolutely devastated and the citizens were furious. So in order to save his own hide, Nero passed the blame to the Christians.

Now most people already thought the Christians were rather strange and a little bit anti-Roman. For one thing, Christians refused to worship all of the Romans gods – so that kinda put them on the outside already. To add to that, at that time there were rumors that the Christians were actually cannibals because of communion – they totally misunderstood how Christians would symbolically drink the blood and eat the body of Christ. So these “strange, cannibalistic, anti-Roman Christians” became the scapegoats and a terrible persecution broke out against them.

At the hands of Nero and his government, Christians were being torn apart by wild dogs, nailed to crosses, covered in tar and set on fire as human torches and all kinds of horrendous, terrible things. History tells us that Peter himself was eventually put to death by Nero by being nailed upsidedown on a cross.

So it’s pretty amazing that it’s right in that time that Peter writes…

For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state,14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.

 15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. 16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. 17 Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.

1 Peter 2:13-17

Now that is being different. When those Christians, who were being so severely persecuted by their own government, continued to treat those in authority with respect – do you think that made an impact of the people around them? Absolutely! The way they lived their lives preached the Gospel loud and clear without having to say a word! And in fact, the church continued to grow greatly during that time because people were seeing the Gospel lived out right in front of them. They could see what a difference Jesus makes in a person’s life.

So I want to challenge you this morning: Can people see the difference that Jesus makes in your life? Is it obvious to your family that you follow Christ? Is it obvious to your friends? To your neighbors?

How about to your boss and to your co-workers? Does the way that you respect your boss – even if he’s a lousy boss – does it preach the Gospel to them by how you live your life?

What about your spouses? Husbands – does your self-sacrificing love for your wife – does the way you honor her – preach the Gospel to her and anyone who sees you? Are you a living testimony to the goodness and grace of God to your wife and kids?

Wives – does your love for your husband – the way your honor and respect and support him – does it preach the Gospel to Him? To your kids? To your friends and neighbors?

Because, listen – people notice how you live. There are a lot of people in our community that have no intentions of stepping through that door on a Sunday morning to listen to me preach the Gospel. But I tell ya, every day they are listen to you preach the Gospel by the way you live your life. It’s quite a responsibility, isn’t it?

But you know, its more than a responsibility – It’s our purpose. That’s why God has us remain on planet earth for a while before He takes us home. So that we can proclaim God’s goodness and grace to the people around us – not just through our words, but through the way we live our lives.

We’re not just here to kill time or to make money or to have a nice life – we’re here to make a difference. God chose you before He even created the earth, not only to love you and adopt you into His family, but He chose you so that you could use your life to make a difference. Before you were born, He worked it out so that you would be right where you are today so that you could be a living testimony for Him – to your family – to your friends – to your neighbors.

You are not insignificant. You are an alien with a purpose. Will you live out that purpose?

One of the most challenging things that I’ve found about being a pastor is that by the time I preach this message to you, I’ve preached it to myself about six or seven times. So by Sunday morning, I’m usually feeling pretty convicted.

And this morning while I was making my last minute adjustments to this message, I took some time to think about how well I’ve been living out my purpose as an alien. I know I get to preach the Gospel with my words quite a bit, but what has my life been preaching?

And particularly, what has my life been saying to my kids and my wife? Have I been a living testimony to them about God’s goodness and grace? And as I thought about that, I have to admit I wasn’t entirely pleased with my answer. I could think of several times in this last week when I was not preaching goodness and grace through my actions.

So to close this morning, I want to challenge you – not as someone who’s got it all figured out, but as someone who’s working through the very same things you are – I want to challenge you to do two things with me this morning.

James 5:16 says “Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

So first of all, I want to admit before you and before God that I fall short. My life does not always preach the goodness and grace of God – just ask my wife and kids. But I want it to. I want to be the most effective alien I can be. I feel very privileged to be able to preach the Gospel to you on Sunday mornings, so I sure don’t want to negate all that by preaching a different message through the way I live my life. So I’m going to ask that you pray for me and keep me accountable.

And perhaps you want to do the same thing. Maybe you want to grab a friend on the way out today and ask them to pray for you and keep you accountable so that you can be the living testimony that God wants you to be.

We don’t know how long God will keep us on this planet, so let’s make sure we fulfill our purpose while we’re here.

 

 

Table of contents for Living As Aliens

  1. Living As Aliens
  2. The Role of Aliens
  3. Dealing with Suffering