The church as a chosen people
In his two New Testament letters, Simon Peter, that impetuous but loyal disciple of Jesus, wrote to the Christians scattered across Asia Minor, located in the territory that is now in the nation of Turkey. He challenged his readers to hold steady in the face of a serious challenge to their stability, their effectiveness, and their message.
Peter reminded them of their true identity. They were the new Israel. Through Christ they were related directly to the promises of God in the Old Testament. They were the new people of God.
In 1 Peter 2:9-10 Peter said: "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."
Peter was telling them, and us, that we are a chosen people. We have not come to be the people of God on our own initiative. We have been chosen by the gracious act of God. By his grace and mercy he has called us into being as his covenant people. This is the heritage of all of God’s people. We have been chosen by God.
Peter was also telling them, and us, that we are a holy people. God accepts nothing less than holiness from his people. He is a holy God who says: "be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy." To be holy means to be set apart for the sacred purposes of God, as well as to be entirely consecrated and dedicated to God. To be holy requires that we radically obey and surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ and allow him to empower us by his spirit.
Finally, Peter was also telling them, and us, that we are a sent people. He said that we are to "declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light." We are chosen and made holy, so that we can be sent to declare the good news of Jesus to a world that so desperately needs to know him.
Ask yourself these questions: do I understand that I have been personally chosen by God and do I really know him in a personal way? Further, have I fully dedicated myself to him and allowed him to fill me with his Spirit and make me holy? This is not only the heritage of the people of God long ago, but it remains the will of God for each of us today.
God has already chosen you. Have you really chosen him? Let us live like the chosen, holy people of God in these days.
the Rev. Wayne Rutherford
LifePointe Church of the Nazarene
Evangelism - it’s a love thing
October 19 we’ll be hosting a huge outreach event at our property for our groundbreaking festival. We’re trying to invite as many people as possible to celebrate this amazing blessing from God by worshipping him and by enjoying the fun and fellowship we have planned together in the festival and concert. Why? Because that is why we are here — to share the good news of Jesus. We are here to do evangelism in everything we do. So, our readings today are pretty timely.
You see, in our text, God’s word gives us some guidance in this evangelism stuff and shows us that evangelism, really, is all about love. Here, Paul talks about the Thessalonians and shows how they were naturally doing evangelism, even though it was hard to do the right thing in their situation. And it becomes clear that evangelism was not for them just a matter of what they said. It was how they lived.
Paul talks about their work "produced by faith," their labor "prompted by love," and their endurance "inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." Their evangelism was a love thing in that it is prompted and motivated by love. Remember what John wrote: "We love because he first loved us."
Even when we weren’t doing the work God wanted us to do, or when we were doing it just because we "had to" or just going through the motions, God loved us — enough to send us Jesus. One sin and we’ve fallen short of perfection. One sin and we deserve God’s wrath. You see, God is just and sin must be paid for, failure must be made right, shortcomings must be accounted for. There is no government bailout on sin. The price was too high. But Jesus "rescued us from this coming wrath."
Jesus taught us God’s love, Paul demonstrates, from when he chose us (verse 4), to when he worked his power in us (verse 5) to when he sacrificed everything, paying the ransom price for our sins with his blood to "rescue us from the coming wrath" (verse 10). Our failures deserve God’s punishment but Jesus took that to make us his. That is love. And that is something worth sharing.
Then, Paul shows us, that sharing of love is something that is evangelism. The way we act, the way we live, the way we hope and talk and love — that is evangelism. That gives us opportunity to introduce people to Jesus. You see, Paul writes that people all over were seeing the Thessalonians’ joy in spite of setbacks, their love in spite of persecution, their trust in the face of so many who doubted. And all of that made the gospel look good.
Now, apply that. God has loved you. He has put you in the lives of those around you and you show love. That is a given because God’s love is in you and it naturally comes out. And that gives you opportunities to share. Use those. Use the relationships God has given you (friends, family, coworkers, co-players, etc.). They see your love. Now tell them where it comes from and to where it leads. You can start by inviting them to groundbreaking where they’ll hear all about this love. And even better, I pray they’ll see it in action.
the Rev. Jonathan E. Scharf
Abiding Grace Lutheran Church