I had the honor of preaching yesterday at my church, Westwood. Our pastor has been faithfully walking us through the Book of Isaiah. Last Sunday we arrived in chapter 28. Peter quotes a portion from this chapter in the second chapter of his first letter:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame” (1 Peter 2:6, taken from Isaiah 28:16, ESV).
In the verses that follow, Peter conveys to his audience of New Covenant exiles a reminder of who they are as exiles within a foreign land full of people who are stumbling over this cornerstone, ultimately to their own destruction. He also provides insight throughout the rest of this letter as to how exiles should both view and live in their foreign home.
Our task as exiles is framed through the summary statement he provides. As a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own possession, and a people who have received his mercy, we are to
“…proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9b).
Here is a portion of my sermon from yesterday. If you would like to listen to it in its entirety, I have provided the link at the bottom of this post. I pray that it will encourage and challenge you, as we struggle together to understand who we are as exiles, and how we are to then live in light of that identity within a fallen, foreign world.
We will only be effective in proclaiming the excellencies of Jesus when our perspective is correct. Only when we set our perspective on our King and his Kingdom will we begin to proclaim to a decaying kingdom destined for destruction the excellencies of the only one who can save.
If we are to proclaim the excellencies of King Jesus, we must be preceded by joy and hope, not anger and fear. We ought to be preceded by assurance and confidence, not anxiety and woe.
Our task [as a royal priesthood] is to mediate the blessings of God by living our lives as gifts to the world! Our lives are to be compelling invitations to everyone around us to come and experience and consider the grace and mercy of our Savior King!
But this must begin with a proper perspective of this foreign land. Here are 5 realities that we must have in order to begin with this perspective:
- Most people in it are lost. We are the minority.
- Lost people are going to act like lost people. (Their sin is ultimately unbelief)
- God and his purposes are under constant assault. (Especially true for the things that are closest to God’s heart, such as matters of life, family, marriage, vocation, and identity!!)
- This land is corrupt and only getting worse.
- The only hope is Jesus and his gospel!
If joy and hope are to precede us, allowing us to proclaim the excellencies of Jesus, our perspective must be FORWARD, on the hope that lies before us, with a well-shaped understanding of our current foreign land.
If our perspective is on something ‘BACK THERE’ that we must fight to protect and maintain, our lives will never be marked with joy or hope. Our lives will simply proclaim rebuke, frustration, anxiety and anger.
Yes, we are to uphold truth. Yes, we are to shine forth the truth of God. But we are to balance that by also being salty in the way that we live. The preservative aspect of being salt is not found in a call to the world to live holy lives! They can’t! Rather, it is found in the way WE live out the transformation of the Spirit before them, compelling them to taste and see that the Lord is good and mighty to save.
You can listen to this sermon in its entirety here.