Our Peculiar Pilgrimage Week 2

1Pe 1:17-23 NASB  If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;  (18)  knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,  (19)  but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.  (20)  For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you  (21)  who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.  (22)  Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,  (23)  for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

The pastor had preached a strong sermon on personal evangelism pointing out every Christian's obligation to reach out and win others to the Lord. In the conclusion of the sermon he tried to obliterate every excuse that anyone might have for failure to lead others to Christ. The sermon needed to be preached, of course, as it still does. Only apparently he had been guilty of some unfair emphasis.

After the sermon he was invited home with a lovely Christian family. The husband was completing his resident work as a medical doctor, and had little spare time, but still he spent time in the churches ministry. The wife beautifully cared for their three lovely children. All of them were very young-one still an infant in arms-and required a lot of time.

During the meal the wife asked the pastor if he remembered the Scripture, "For as his share is who goes down into battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage" (1Samuel_30:24). He confessed his ignorance, and she gave the context of King David insisting that the home guard be rewarded equally with those who had the more obviously essential role of fighting in the front line.

And then she shared a wonderful truth which is so easily forgotten. She mentioned that she felt that taking care of children, patiently teaching them the ways of God and His great values, looking for moments of readiness to deflect them gently when they get on the wrong track was "staying with the baggage." She went on to point out that she often felt guilty for not doing more of the "church" work than she did. But she felt her greatest ministry was being a dedicated Christian mother.

Where will those children trace their faith to I wonder? I would imagine it will be the same place John and Charles Wesley looked, their mother Suzanna. Paul noted the same in his letter to the young pastor Timothy. What would the church have missed had those two not have had that kind of mother? What will the church miss if we don't consider the legacy we leave behind to the next generation.

In grabbing hold of the image of pilgrim, Peter connects all Christians together on one journey. It is an important parallel for in doing so, Peter invites the new believer, the gentile, the rest of the world to join the story of the Jews. No, let me rephrase that – He invites us ALL to be part of God's family and the story of God's people from the beginning.

Don't miss for a minute that when we choose to go the way of Jesus, we are joining the same journey the Jews did when they fled from Egypt. One commentary notes, I think very accurately the parallel that the new believers face a difficult journey. It is one that he rightly worries about. That as new pilgrims, when we feel the struggle of the journey "...you have brought us out into the wilderness to kill this whole assembly..." (Exodus 16:3b).

And don't think for a minute Peter doesn't miss the temptations of silver and gold in verse 18. It tempted the Israelites at Sinai and it continues to tempt the followers of Jesus on the journey and I'm not speaking for pastors alone. The silver and gold that tempts us can be our children, our jobs, our hobbies, our free-time, yes, even the time we 'deserve' on Sundays.

Professor Daniel Deffenbaugh (www.workingpreacher.org) notes as well an important fact: When we began to speak of the Passover Lamb and compare it to Jesus Christ, we need to note that “..blood was offered not as an appeasement to God but as a symbol of Yahweh's favor.”

And if we are going to own a journey with God, we need to make note of the dangerous nature of God's sovereignty. This is what verse 17 notes. God shows no partiality – he doesn't play games. We get to join in with the full of history of his actions on behalf of creation. But in doing so, we don't get to dictate to God. To trace our roots back through the Old Testament means we recognize that it has always been God who acts first. It is God who chooses to extend his hand.  God is not petty in his dealings with our petty issues with Him. He doesn't spend time cutting us down to size, laughing at our attempts to manipulate or our consistent inconsistency about our trusting in him. He is not Zeus after all.

Two disciples were on the road traveling between two cities. They shared later their conversation was about their doubts regarding their faith. Along the way they picked up a stranger and he inquired about their conversation. They couldn't believe this person was unaware of the story of Jesus. To contrary, the stranger began to teach them the meaning of Jesus' life. When they got to their destination, the two men invited the stranger to dinner. As the stranger prayed for God's blessing on the meal, they realized, this was no stranger...it was Jesus Christ.

It is a story found in Luke 24 and it demonstrates what God has done throughout our history. He hasn't left us to our own devices, he journies with us, he on the road with us, he is in the midst of the questions we ask, he his there at the moments of greatest need even when he is a stranger to us. In other words, he has loved us.

Like Mark Twain said about his father (and could be said about mothers), “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years,” we just as easily apply to God as if God somehow has changed.

But it is us who is on the pilgrim journey and God with us. He has been over the ground for centuries and continues to patiently walk with us to obedience – to become the most powerful, most incredible we can – to become people who love. On this day we recognize our mothers, as human beings who seek to overcome their own frailities and failures and epitomize love to us. It is hard to find a mother's day card that doesn't express our appreciation for a mother's love.

What we are left with is a glimpse across the table or a memory of days gone by and in our mother's example, see Jesus. We see this love that Peter talked about us all having, when we obeyed our mother's wisdom and words and truth. In doing so, we began our pilgrimage, a pilgrimage that stretches back through time. Will that love be what is seen in your home? Is that the love which is seen in our actions, one to another? Is that the love we have to the enemy who stabs us in the back or attacks our nation?

When the opportunity comes and the road in front of you diverges, which path to take? There are only two after all. One looks promising with its shiny things but it is always death. Then there is the other of plainness and obvious struggle but it is always life and ultimately love.


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