Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. (verses 13-17)
Peter has been revelling in the salvation we have received through Jesus Christ. We have new birth, a living hope, an imperishable inheritance, and are kept safe by the Sovereign Lord himself. How good.
On that basis, then, he now tells us how to live. Or, perhaps more accurately, he gives us three postures or perspectives we should embrace. Let’s take a look.
The first is a posture of being eagerly and expectantly alert. Have “minds that are alert,” Peter says. What he literally writes is “gird up the loins of your mind.” It’s an image from the ancient world where long robes were hoisted up and tied around one’s waist in order to get prepared for action, as in battle. It was the stance of readiness. It’s also an image Peter would have heard Jesus himself use when speaking about his future coming – he said, “Be dressed ready for service (literally “girding loins”) and keep your lamps burning … It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes” (Luke 12:35, 37). This is exactly what Peter has in mind. He wants us to have a posture of eager, expectant alertness for Jesus’ second coming – we stand ready by setting our minds on that sure hope.
This is the first posture – future hope shapes our life for Christ here and now.
The second is a posture of obedient imitation. It’s exactly what young children do with their parents. My wife and I were looking through pictures the other day and came upon one showing our second child at age 2 or 3 trying to be like Daddy – he was tromping around in my much-too-big shoes! Hilarious. And absolutely endearing. It’s exactly the right stance for us in relationship to our heavenly Father. Imitate him. “Be holy, because I am holy,” is what he himself urges.
If that’s the posture we adopt – ready to follow his lead, ready to imitate Abba at every moment – we will be much less likely to “conform to the evil desires (we) had when (we) lived in ignorance.”It’s a stance for effective discipleship.
The third posture flows out of truly knowing our identity. We are “strangers” in this world. Remember how Peter addressed this letter in the first place: to “God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces” (verse 1). That’s us. This world is not our home. Our citizenship is elsewhere. So, we live by the standards and customs and styles of a completely different culture – the kingdom of God. We’re not to conform to this world, but rather “live out our time as foreigners here.”
It's a crucial stance, for it is so easy to forget and become immersed in the thick fog of the culture around us. Instead, we are to lift our sights to the blazing sun piercing through from that distant country – our true home – and so live by “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
So, take your stance. Eager and alert for Christ’s coming. Obediently imitating your beloved Father. Setting your sights on your true home.
Live for him, here and now.
O Lord, by your Spirit please sharpen my focus in living for you. Increase my expectancy of your coming. Intensify my longing to be like you. Deepen my joy in knowing this is not my true home. Lift my sights – constantly – to you. Amen.
Reflect: Choose one of these three postures to embrace more fully this day. How will you keep it in view? What might get in the way?