Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Beloved Who Live What We Are

Yesterday was my birthday, that annual reminder that I am aging, and life is short.

With this in mind, I began my prayer journaling this morning talking to God about the brevity of life. No matter how long we live on this earth, because God “has put eternity into man's heart,”[1] it will always feel too short. The Christian, of all people, can face this with true hope since the eternity in our hearts will be fully satisfied with the eternity of God’s presence in which there is fullness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures forevermore.[2] However, this earthly life is short, and we have so little time to make it count.

I’m now continuing in my journey through I Peter and have arrived at the section that describes the relationships of husbands and wives. However, these are applications of a foundational truth that directs how we live in a whole variety of relationships. To understand how to live as husbands and wives, we must keep in mind that it is a distinctive expression of this teaching:

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (I Peter 2)

First I noticed the three nouns that describe us who are the children of God:
·  Beloved: the people who are loved, simple as that!
·  Sojourners: sojourn means to stay somewhere for a brief period of time.
·  Exiles: those living away from their own country.

When Peter tells us to “abstain from the passions of the flesh,” and, “keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable,” he speaks of us in three nouns that identify who we are. How we do what we do in the relational examples that follow is based on this universal understanding of our identity. We do both the negative abstaining and the positive God-honoring because of who we are in Jesus Christ, but particularly as it applies to how we view ourselves in this present world.

How do these three identifications make us the people who can both abstain from sarky passions and glorify God?
·  Beloved: we love God because he first loves us.[3] Knowing ourselves as beloved children of God draws our hearts to turn from what is evil and pursue what is good. We are able to imitate God in his love for us because we are beloved children who have witnessed the love of God expressed to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.[4]
·  Sojourners: we are in this foreign country for a brief stay and so we do not make ourselves at home! We do not indulge in the sinful activities of this foreign country, and we live in the culture of the God-glorifying kingdom even though it is totally foreign to the world in which we live. Our very identity as a brief visitor keeps us focused on living according to the things that last forever.
·  Exiles: we are so conscious that we are exiled from our homeland that we live in constant longing to be home. This makes us live by the culture of our homeland because that is who we are. We are not immigrants in the world, now seeking to make a home in a new place. We are prisoners released from the oppressive tyranny of this sinful world, living as exiles who are in this world but not of the world, and our one over-riding passion is to go home. With that in mind, we live accordingly.

I thought it was interesting to begin by talking to God about how I feel concerning the brevity of life and then have him focus this into my very identity as one of his beloved sojourners and exiles. I have a heavenly Father who loves me more than I know, and he keeps reminding me that life in this world is so brief that I am not to live like I belong here. Instead, I am to constantly express who I am as a beloved child of God who is a sojourning exile shining the light of life into the darkness of the foreign country in which I live.

Therefore, instead of letting this foreign country draw me into its darkness, I must let my “light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”[5] The church is the light of the world. Because we do not live and walk in the world’s darkness, and we do live and walk in the light of the Lord, we are free to shine the light of God’s life and love into the dark world in which we live.  

How does this relate to a fifty-nine year old husband relating to his wife of thirty-seven years? 

As a beloved child of God I will not love as the world loves, but will imitate the love of God in how I express my love to my wife. As a sojourner, I will look to fill our marriage with activities and relationships that have eternal value. As an exile, I will aim to nurture our marriage with the shared activity of seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and seek to bear with the troubles and trials of this earthly life with constant comforts of our coming eternal home. And, I will seek to maintain strong attachment-level love-relationships with Jesus’ church so others in the body of Christ can both help me and hold me accountable to keep growing up in these things.

© 2017 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Ecclesiastes 3:11
[2] Psalm 16:11
[3] I John 4:19
[4] Ephesians 5:1-2
[5] Matthew 5:16

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