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Strangers in Town But Members of the Household

Now you are the people of God -I Peter 2:10b

Alfred North Whitehead once wrote: “Religion is what the individual does with his own solitariness.”  That is when no one is looking, and not trying to impress anyone.

While that is true in a sense, it is certainly not the fundamental truth of the Christian experience.  Because as John Wesley said, Christianity is a social religion.  An essential and primary ingredient in the Christian experience is community.

In this letter Peter is not addressing “isolated individuals but a community. It is nothing less than the continuation of the OT “Covenant People”.  In this short passage Peter uses several terms for this community.  He calls them:

obedient children
spiritual house
God’s own people

Even though strangers in the world, they do not loose their identity because they are members of a community. This community, which the New Testament calls the church is to provide the environment for growth and spiritual health. It is also to be the primary witness to God’s work in the world through Jesus.

Because we are strangers in a hostile world, we can only maintain our identity as Christians/survive in community.  This community gets its value and identity by belonging to God and its purpose by worshiping and witnessing to His excellencies.

Are you trying to go it alone as a follower of Jesus? If so, find a group of other followers and join them. Churches like Messiah will welcome you with open arms.


Jesus Is Alive

If Christ has not been raised then your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
–I Corinthians 15:17

            This story is told about T.S. Eliot: “A literature student, upon graduating from Harvard, went to ….Eliot to get advice.  For a while Eliot said nothing.  Then he said, ‘40 years ago I went from Harvard to Oxford.  Now you are going from Harvard to Oxford.’  Then he paused some more.  The student was anxious to hear his famous words that he would remember for the rest of his life.  Finally, Eliot put his hand on the young man’s shoulder and said, ‘Don’t forget your long underwear.’”

            Sometimes I’m afraid people come to church wanting to hear something to sustain them for the rest of their life and are disappointed with the trivial.  Even with Easter, the Resurrection, we can trivialize it by talking of budding flowers, butterflies, and Easter eggs.

            Last week, I said that we sometimes seem to minimize Jesus’ death in order to emphasize the resurrection.  To do that is also to minimize the resurrection.

            One of the reasons we may not appreciate the resurrection as we should is that we avoid death, evil, refuse to acknowledge it in our life, our world.  Philip Yancey reminds of a scene from the novel, Watership Down:

A colony of wild rabbits is uprooted by a construction project. They begin to wander and encounter a new breed of rabbits, huge, healthy, and beautiful,  Their bodies show no signs of scars or struggle.  They are asked how they “live so well.”  The answer: “Someone provides for us.  LIFE IS GRAND!”

The displaced rabbits are impressed but suspicious.  One day they notice one of the fattest and sleekest tame rabbits has disappeared.

They are told.  It happens regularly.  We don’t understand, but we don’t let it interfere with our lives.

Then they discover a trap with a noose.

The gullible rabbits ignore the imminent danger of death.

The more you are aware of evil, death, the more you understand its pervasiveness, the more it enters your experience, the more important the resurrection, hope, a new beginning becomes.  In fact, we are not prepared to experience resurrection until we have experienced crucifixion, until what we hold dear has been “put to death.”  Only then can it be raised to life, eternal life.

When you have lost all hope in your intelligence, physical energy, cunning, hard work, education, security in things; only then does resurrection, new life come.

It comes as you place your trust in the living Christ.