1st Peter 1:13-21
There is a saying, “variety is the spice of life”. How old it is I don’t know nor does it really matter but from my conversations with people variety is the thing that we most miss in this present “lockdown”. Almost every day is the same. What will we do today? The same as yesterday! It seems at times that we forget, if even momentarily, why we are forced into this position. After three weeks and into four the question arises how much people will put up with curtailment of their routine before it becomes and infringement of their rights. The question again debated on the radio this morning. I suppose again, that the answer is as variable as individuals.
We have become used to freedom of choice in a way other generations before us did not know. The reasons are probably economic; we have greater wealth. Go to a superstore today and you have almost endless choice in bread, coffee or beans, even toilet rolls. The choice offered in some products is bewildering. The problem is, maybe problem is too strong a word, so potentially is that this can be a problem for Christian growth.
Our freedom in Christ does not extend to making choices that are detrimental to our faith or sinful at heart. This is not a new problem but one addressed by Paul in his first letter to Christians in Corinth, to believers who had become confused over the nature of their freedom. So, he wrote speaking for them in chapter 10:23 ‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’– but not everything is constructive.
You see the answer and in that the point of his argument, is yes as Christians we still have freedom, but not every choice we make is right or good and that calls for discernment. The problem is one of the mind. When we think that we have been denied something it suddenly becomes attractive. I know this from experience at least at a mundane level. I have tried numerous diets periodically over the years and I have never missed any food until I deprive myself of it. Then the choice of other meals, though vast in reality, suddenly becomes very bland.
As Christians perhaps we haven’t really grasped the inverted values of God’s Kingdom. Our liberty in Christ is not liberty to sin, but liberty not to sin, to choose the right which before we could not do and Peter I think has the answer. Look again at verse 13. The Authorised version translates the original almost literally “Gird up the loins of your mind” Hearing that read from the AV years ago in Union College I asked an older student, not older in age but one who had been there longer “What does that mean?” I was trying to make the point that the phrase was almost meaningless to people of our day but not taking the point he answered “Get ready to think!”
Actually he was 100% right it goes back to the practice in the day when people wore long robes they would gather them up and tuck them into their belt so that they could run or engage in some strenuous work. They were then free from entanglements. When linked by Peter with the encouragement to be sober-minded it seems to me that he is really emphasising that the battle is lost or won in the mind. Dwell less on the attractions of sin and more on the grace that is still to come in Christ and as that hope takes root in the mind it will shape the actions. Being holy in our conduct (our behaviour different and God honouring) then is not an optional extra for believers. It is not only something we are commanded to be but if our minds are fixed on Christ, we will truly long to be and all our choices and steps will be to that end. True freedom!
Lord help me to dwell on the grace that is mine in Jesus your Son. Enable me to fix my mind on him and so prepare for action in the Christian life. I rejoice in the grace that you have shown me, I look forward to the grace that is yet to be revealed when Christ returns in glory. Lord today as I confess my sin I do so in the confidence that Christ has atoned for sin and that you have promised to forgive. So purify my heart take from me the love of sinning and set me apart to live always for you Lord. In Jesus strong name I pray. Amen