Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
In the part of the theological world where I live, that is, in historically confessional Lutheranism, we’re often oddly shy about God’s demands to live a holy life. If I try to put the best possible construction on it, an application from Luther’s catechism, I’ll say it is because we want to be sure nobody thinks that Christianity is at heart a moral system or that we could ever do enough good to earn God’s favor. Yet our Epistle reading for this week, from 1 Peter 2:21-25, very clearly says that Christians do, in at least some way, consider Jesus an example. We are supposed to try to act the way Jesus did, and to cultivate the attitudes Jesus had. Granted, we won’t ever be able to do that perfectly, but that doesn’t exempt us from pursuit of a godly life.
What, specifically, does Peter call Christians to do? Avoid sin. Don’t speak deceit. Don’t return insult for insult.When suffering, trust God to bring justice. Remember we are dead to sin and that we live to righteousness.
That’s a remarkably simple list. Then again, how in the world are we going to do the things on it? Especially the thing about deceit, because the easiest way to do all the others is to trick ourselves and others into thinking we are doing just fine. We don’t have the freedom to explain away all these issues.
We are, however, told right at the end of the passage how to deal with those pesky demands of God. We have returned to the Shepherd, Jesus, who will stop us from straying and keep us on the right path. Once again, we can’t do it ourselves. But Jesus can do it in us. Do we trust that Jesus’ will to set us free from sin and death extends to his desire to change our lives? Do we trust that his promise of forgiveness also applies to the times when we know what is sin and we walk right into it? He is the one who corrects, who forgives, and who guides his people. Yes, we grow in grace. We also grow in our understanding of his forgiveness.
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