1 Peterby David Burge
When we were missionaries in Mongolia, we visited prisons and told precious souls that we had travelled a very long way in order to bring them a message from God. They sensed the message must be of great importance, because our family had moved to their culture and learnt their language in order to share it with them. Out of respect for the effort we had made, Mongolians were willing to hear our message.
Peter uses a similar approach here to motivate us to live as ″foreigners″ (1 Peter 1:17) in our culture. He tells us to appreciate who God is, and the lengths He has gone to for our sake.
First, who is God to be worthy of loyalty over cultural norms? Peter offers reasons of intimacy and respect. We have an intimate relationship with God as our ″Father″ (v. 17). Some Christians whose fathers did not show intimacy have testified that knowing God as an intimate father took time to appreciate. At the same time, we respect God for His holiness (v. 16) and role as impartial judge of our lives (v. 17). ″Reverent fear″ (v. 17) does not mean we are worried that God will forsake or condemn us, for He will never do that (see Romans 8:1, 39). Rather, it means we remember God is God and treat Him accordingly-with deep awe, trust, and obedience.
Second, to what lengths has God gone for us that motivates our loyalty? Notice the impressive missionary biography of God in 1 Peter 1:18-20. God paid the supreme cost to redeem us from the emptiness of our false religions and ideologies. What was the redeeming price? Peter no doubt remembered vividly the appalling sight of the bleeding, broken body of Jesus on the cross when saying we were ransomed ″with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect″ (v. 19).
Remarkably, Jesus' sacrifice was not ″Plan B″ for God's people. The Son was chosen even ″before the creation of the world″ (v. 20) for this work, and was revealed recently through His incarnation, death, and resurrection to Peter and others ″for your sake″ (v. 20).
Since our holy Father has done this for us, let us neither disregard our rescue nor disrespect the great missionary God who has come for us. Let us cheerfully and resolutely see ourselves as His people, and foreigners with good news as we engage with the world. May we, without reluctance, leave our old ways behind in order to adopt the ways of God's holy children.
To what extent have you responded gratefully to God's mission for you in Christ?
What might loyalty to your holy Father look like for you today?