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Purified by obedience to the truth

Our new life is not like our old life.  We are being purified by obedience to the truth.  Everything around us is temporary but God is shaping our eternal character.
Our new life is not like our old life. We are being purified by obedience to the truth. Everything around us is temporary but God is shaping our eternal character.Tom Spence

Read 1 Peter 1:17-23

If you have never been to any of the Smithsonian Museums, you should put that on your bucket list.

I have gone several times, and I think every time I went I always included the Air and Space museum. They are all fantastic, but that one always amazed me.

While you are in the neighborhood, you should check out the monuments. Wow!

When I was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California I attended several Padres baseball games. The first time that you enter a major league baseball stadium it just takes your breath.

Some of you have seen pictures of the deck in my courtyard. Actually, most of you have seen dozens of pictures of my deck. Here’s the first board being set, here we are at half way complete and nearly complete, and complete, and complete with new patio chairs.

Then of course, you had to witness the same pictures with my granddaughter on the new deck. What can I say, there are some sights that you just have to see before you die.

I have never been to the new stadium where the Dallas Cowboys play. I am sure it has to be something—a sight to see to be sure.

I have yet to see the pyramids or the Great Wall of China or the Cubs win the pennant, but perhaps one day I will have the pleasure, at least for the first two.

I have seen the Highway of Death north of Kuwait City.

I have seen wild dogs that roamed the desert without fear of man after feasting on human flesh at the end of the first Gulf War.

I have seen hunger and suffering in so many places.

And all of these things have one thing in common.

These magnificent sights and these encounters that bring tears to the eye both share a common quality.

They are temporary.

They won’t last.

They are here but for a time.

We may stand in awe of them.

We may be shocked by them.

But these things of grandeur and these things that are appalling are both temporary.

If you have ever bought and sold a house or placed money in the stock market, you know that monetary value is elusive, sometimes even hitting absurd extremes at both ends of the spectrum.

If you have ever had a major operation and then looked at your hospital bill you might be amazed at the total cost. Some is paid by insurance. Some is paid by the person who had the operation or his or her family. Some of the cost is just written off by the hospital.

Sometimes what you pay is determined by what you or your insurance can and will pay.

All of this leading up to a single question: How much does it really cost?

My wife comes back from shopping at one of her favorite stores telling me that she got something that was half of half of half off again, plus a 10% discount. I get a frown when I say, “And the store still made money on the sale.”

Now if someone kidnapped your children and offered their safe return for a designated ransom, would you pay the ransom?

For those full of bravado and hubris, let’s just say that for the sake of this single question, say that you are not superman, cannot find and rescue your children with your X-Ray vision and superpowers, and that the only real choices you have are to pay the ransom or not pay it.

Of course you pay it.

Kidnapping is a terrible crime and that’s why our laws against it include severe punishment.

Holding someone captive, enslaving them if you will, is despicable.

But in the final analysis, most of us would do what we had to do to rescue our kids.

In that moment, we might just see that all of our money and our valued possessions and our property only have value in terms of saving those we love.

Peter is writing, most likely from Rome, to those believers in Asia Minor—modern day Turkey. He reminds them that they are born again to a new hope—a living hope.

He reminds them that much of the suffering they have endured has been because they follow Jesus.

They are strangers—aliens in this world.

Everything around them is corrupt. Everything born of this world is corruptible.

But they have been redeemed, rescued, ransomed by what is incorruptible.

The standards of that day—and to some extent even our own day—were silver and gold. These two precious metals were the standard by which other things were valued.

Today we still use the term “Gold Standard” to describe something by which we measure all others.

But Peter told these believers that even silver and gold were just perishable things. Peter put gold and silver in the same category as the Manna that God’s children received in the wilderness.

It was good for a short time only and then it was not good at all.

The bread store in the wilderness went out of business quickly because no one was buying day old Manna. Even the there is protein in those maggots campaign didn’t help, probably because Dr. Oz didn’t endorse it, but nobody wanted that stinky day-old Manna.

But Peter’s words put gold and silver in the same category. They are perishable commodities.

Whenever I get home after we have gone grocery shopping, I always prioritize getting the cold stuff in first. We have been buying a lot of frozen fruit and juicing lately and one day last month, I missed a bag of frozen strawberries and mangos and some other super fruit. It remained in the back floorboard of my truck for a couple days.

When I discovered it, I wondered, “Could I just throw this in the freezer?”

Wiser heads prevailed and the fermenting super fruits made it to the compost pile instead.

I just don’t like oversights like that. I don’t like wasting things, especially when I am the one who insists that we get the perishable stuff put away as soon as we get home.

Peter says, “It is all perishable. Not even silver and gold will be counted as incorruptible.”

The only thing of value will be the blood of Jesus. For it is by his blood that we are redeemed, rescued, ransomed.

Jesus said: Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

In the revelation that was given to John the Apostle while he was exiled to Patmos, we read:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

Everything will be made new.

And if it will all be made new, not repaired but made new, then everything thing that we see around us will be gone.

Some of you are crying now because you just paid $12,000 for a new roof or you just pressure washed and water sealed your deck.

It is all going to be gone.

Perishable, corruptible, temporary, short –lived, decaying, transitory, provisional, momentary, brief, limited, passing—are we getting the picture?

We live here for such a short time. We are just a mist and then we are gone, but even the stuff that we think will last forever, doesn’t last forever.

And Peter could have just left it at that, except he was doing more than looking beyond the temporal nature of this world to life in our eternal destination.

He wanted to give those in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, Bithynia, Burns Flat, Dill City, Foss, and Canute some guidance and encouragement on how to live in this temporary home until we get to move into the mansion.

Those who have purchased land and decided to build a home on it sometimes go this route.

· Buy land.

· Buy trailer house.

· Put trailer house on land.

· Live in trailer while the house is being built.

· Say extra prayers that all tornados miss you by a whole bunch.

· Finish the house.

· Move out of the trailer and into the house.

In the course of this journey you might find that parts of trailer house living are different than living in the mansion.

Perhaps you endure some things in your temporary quarters that you won’t have to worry about once your house is ready to occupy.

Peter was writing instructions for trailer house living before the trailer house was even invented.

Some folks might live in a trailer house all of their lives and not need to move into a mansion until it is the one that Jesus went to prepare for us.

But we still need to heed the instructions for living in temporary quarters.

This world is not our home but we are not home yet.

Are we there yet? No, but our reservation is confirmed, guaranteed, and our room is ready. Our journey here continues.

So Peter tells us—those who have been ransomed by the blood of Christ—that we need to live holy lives.

In the midst of this temporary situation we need to live by our permanent character.

It is a character based on knowing that before we were born, even before this earth was born, God knew what had to take place to redeem a creation that would go astray.

God knew that one day his Son—his one and only Son—would make an incredible sacrifice for people whom he loved but who did not love him back.

God set creation into motion giving us free will and knowing that he would not be our first choice, that we would rebel, that we would not love him, that we would choose sin over life.

God knew what it would cost to redeem us. Such revelation did not become clear to us until the Messiah came and conquered sin and death by his blood and God’s own Spirit opened the eyes of the disciples and opened our eyes as well.

God gave prophecy, but few had vision to understand before it came to pass.

An Unblemished Lamb would take away our sin, and in this sacrifice, we would know eternity in loving relationship with our Father.

That relationship is forever: Eternal, imperishable, everlasting, without end.

We are still living in the trailer house, but we are people who know without a doubt that we will live in the mansion.

So for everything that counts, we live as people who live in the mansion.

What counts? Everything that is not temporary.

We are holy because our Father is holy.

We love one another with sincerity.

We love one another deeply.

The things of this world pass away but our love is sincere and our love is deep.

We live in hope—a living hope.

We used to live in ignorance but now we live with purpose.

We used to be adrift but now our helm is set.

We used to crave the things of the world—those perishable things—but now we only use them with purpose.

Now we see the things of this world as consumable items to be used to bring glory to God.

He has rescued us, redeemed us, ransomed us from the way we used to be.

How will we respond?

Here is a word that you won’t like if you, if you are comfortable living in the trailer house.

What word?

Obedience.

I know that word. Obedience is what we want from our children but resist giving to God.

We think, maybe when I get out of the trailer house and into the mansion then I will be into this obedience thing. Yep, that’s the ticket.

Peter says, and why it is not translated this way I will never understand, he says, “That dog don’t hunt.”

The Message says it this way.

Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life.

You new life is not like your old life. You have been born of God.

Doesn’t this sound a lot like Jesus talking to Nicodemus?

Peter is not espousing a new doctrine of his own. He is putting day-to-day directions to being born again.

Sometimes we think of obedience as following the rules. I ask you to consider obedience as following Jesus and just watching the rules fall into place.

You might think that I have taken you on the mixed metaphor mania mantra migration and even with a little consonance in the explanation as we explored Peter’s instructions on trailer house living.

But let’s refine the metaphor mania with some simile sanity.

Live today like tomorrow is not promised but eternity is.

Love today like your cup will never run out and the cup of your brother or sister whom you love will never be filled.

Obey God’s calling and commands like it was your own idea to begin with.

Obey God like you are obeying your own idea.

Okay, those might not be perfect similes, but cut me a little syntax slack here. This one is a real simile.

Obeying God while we live in the trailer house is like having a little piece of that mansion that awaits us right in the middle of this temporary world.

We are being purified and sanctified and made holy in our obedience to God in this very temporary situation.

Everything that we see around us is temporary, perishable, and transient; but God is making us into who we will be for eternity.

We have been redeemed, rescued, and ransomed from sin, death, and the perishable nature of this world.

How will we respond?

I pray that it is with love, sincere love, deep love, and obedience to the truth.

And obedience to the truth.

Amen.