Focal passage: 1 Peter 2:11-20
I have had the unfortunate opportunity to visit U.S. Embassies in two foreign countries – both due to needing replacement passports for mission team members. However, when I was walking through that process, it was encouraging to meet those at the outpost who were fellow citizens of our home country. They were citizens of one country living in another. Even as they lived their lives, moving about in two of the world’s most popular cities, they represented America – both in their words and deeds. The way they lived their lives not only reflected on themselves individually, but also on their home country.
Peter reminds his readers that they are exiles (displaced from their homeland) and sojourners (temporary travelers who are passing through). And they are not in friendly territory. They have battles both within and without. Also, the “Gentiles” around them are claiming these believers are living “evil” lives. What are they to do?
They must respond both internally and externally. Internally, they must “abstain” from those fleshly passions that would cause them to live like those around them who embraced and celebrated such passions. Externally, they must act in a way that demonstrates the reality that their hearts have been changed on the inside. They must live as those who represent a different Kingdom and live under the reign of a different King.
The two particular outward expressions of their heavenly citizenship will be how they submit to the governing authorities that rule over them and to the vocational masters they serve. While their ultimate allegiance is to God’s authority, they show that allegiance by submitting to the earthly authorities God has ordained.
One commentator accurately titled this section of 1 Peter “Living as Aliens to Bring Glory to God in a Hostile World.” In our culture, the hostility seems to be growing. May our lives point others to a new Kingdom and the beauty of our glorious King.