Monday, April 8
The People of God
What distinguishes Christianity from all other world religions? That is a profound question. I’m sure that theologians would find various answers to this question. I would simply point us to Jesus. His life, witness, death, and resurrection set our faith apart. His fulfillment of Messianic prophecies marks Him as unique in all of history. He is God in the flesh. His atoning death on the cross offers all human beings an opportunity to live in relationship with our Creator. His followers are set apart from all other adherents of the other world religions.
I am convinced Simon Peter knew all of this. He may not have worded it exactly as I did. But he believed in the “theological particularity” of the Christian faith. In other words, he was convinced Jesus Christ is the only path to life with God and life eternal. He knew that the followers of Jesus were transformed by the power of the Gospel and their lives took on profound meaning because of the identity of Jesus, Himself. Our identity is rooted in the very identity of our Savior.
He uses three words to describe the New Covenantal People of God in the opening of his first letter: elect, exiles, and scattered. Let’s look at each of those in order to gain a composite portrait of our identity in Christ.
Elect – we don’t have to shy away from this word. We are the chosen people of God. I am not a Calvinist, and I don’t believe in individual election. I do believe in “categorical” election. In other words, when someone decides to follow Jesus, they join the covenantal people of God. This “category” of people has been chosen by God to carry out His will on earth and to experience the promised eternal life in glory secured by Jesus.
Exiles – the Greek word here is “parepidemos” – which can be translated with the English words: pilgrim, sojourner, or exile. The point is that the Christian is not fully at home in this world. We have been designed for eternity. We are exiles on earth, but we have a heavenly passport. We are on a pilgrimage of faith. We are never fully at home --- until we arrive at home in glory!
Scattered – here the Greek word is “diaspora” – which was traditionally used to describe the Jewish population who resided outside of Israel. Peter “baptizes” this word to describe the New Covenantal People of God who are scattered across the world.
Take some time to reflect on our identity in Christ today.
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40 Days of Hope