Exiles from the Broken World

Text: 1 Peter 2:11
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. (NRSV)

One of the running themes we find in the New Testament reflects the Old Testament’s prohibition of the Jews mixing with the Gentiles.  However, within the New Testament, it is a caution for the “new” people of God to not participate with what would be considered worldly.  In other words, the separation the “new” people of God are to keep is a separation from anything that would “wage war against the soul” as opposed to a separation from others based on ethnic or racial backgrounds.

Peter does not call this chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation, God’s own people, (see verse 9) which are now made up of persons from both Jewish and Gentile backgrounds, to stay away from certain other people groups as the Jews insisted they must do.  Instead, the call is to stay away from worldly desires that stand in stark contrast to the ways of God and wage war against the very soul.

Jesus and the authors of our New Testament books have built a case that all people are created by God in the image of God and therefore are unconditionally loved by God.  There is no one who should be excluded from the command for us to love our neighbor.  They have equally built a case for a transformation that takes place within the one who is in a relationship with God through the salvation that comes in Christ Jesus which separates the people of God from their former selfish actions focused on worldly gains such as power, prestige, and privilege.

This transformation that takes place within the disciple of Jesus Christ, is what makes the disciple a “Child of God” and an “alien and exile” of the broken world which is still in bondage to sin and death.  A Child of God does not live by the same value system as one who is still a Child of the world.

What changes have taken place in your value system since you have accepted the gift of salvation Jesus offers you?  Are your desires different than those who still seek after worldly gain?  How might a life lived in pursuit of God’s values of love, grace, forgiveness, mercy, and generosity draw others into a relationship with Jesus?

Pray with me:

God of creation and unconditional love keep me in love with you and my neighbor, so that I live in such a way that separates me from the worldly desires that wage war against my soul.  AMEN.

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