Whatever it meant to be one of the “exiles of the Dispersion”, you sense life isn’t easy for those Peter is writing to in 1 Peter. Life’s not going “swimmingly.” Far from it, you sense. Instead, it seems kind of intuitive that life in “dispersion” means life that’s been severely disrupted, life that’s hard, life where it’s becoming more and more evident you’re not going to back to doing the old “normal” anytime soon.
So, it’s interesting to note the kind of things Peter is led by the Spirit to write to exiles. People who no longer feel at home in the land around them. People who feel more like pilgrims than permanent residents, more like sojourners than citizens, more like foreigners than friends to the world around them. And what Peter says has little to do with trying to fight to restore the old order they had known, but to continue to live into the new order they had been redeemed for and born again into.
After reminding them of the “living hope” that is their’s through the new birth (1:3-9), Peter also reminds them of the abiding call put upon their lives to “be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy'” (1:15-16). Though without a home, in a sense nothing has changed, they’re still to be focused on “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” Though life has been turned upside down, it doesn’t change how they are to live life, holy as God is holy.
While everything has changed for these believers, actually nothing has changed. That’s what hits me in the opening verses of chapter 2, this morning.
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
(1Peter 2:1-3 ESV)
Watch how you behave. Grow up in your salvation. How come? Because you’ve tasted that the Lord is good.
That’s counsel that transcends circumstance. Advice that cares little about struggling to hold on to the “old normal” and isn’t even so much concerned with figuring out a “new normal.” Instead, Peter exhorts these pilgrims to be holy regardless of the normal.
Get rid of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. Don’t waste your energies on them. Not only are they not becoming of a child of God, in the end they’re unprofitable.
Rather, with the determination of a newborn wanting to feed, focus on growing up in your salvation. That’s the major “to do” on any spiritual “to do” list regardless of what’s going on in our world — either our immediate world or the larger world around us. You’ve tasted the Lord is good! Keep on feeding deeply on the Lord who is good. Grow up into your salvation.
Keeping the main things the main things. Seems to me that’s job one when everything else seems to be shifting sand.
Only by grace. Always for His glory.