“The Truth Be Told”
1 Peter 1:17-23
Rev. Mark M. Vickers
April 30, 2017
1 Peter 1:17-23
17 If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. 18 You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 20 He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. 21 Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. 22 Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth[a] so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply[b] from the heart.[c] 23 You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.[d]
Just what happens when you lie? Usually if you are caught, there is punishment, embarrassment, fear, and often times, exile. We spend a great deal of time in our lives focused on the truth. We have heard countless times that “the truth shall set you free,” and in many cases, that is true. We live in a world where the truth is often called into question, “what is the truth?” “Is this real?” or is this “fake news?” We are constantly “on guard” for what is the truth.
Over the past several months, I have tried to examine this question faithfully as a pastor–more specifically, a United Methodist pastor–as the church faces many decisions about what is “truth.” It appears to me that we have lost sight of what Jesus and the realm of truth in the New Testament is really talking about. You see, I believe we are fixated on factual truth that we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. I do not believe that is what we mean when we say “biblical truth!” Now, that may be seen as borderline heresy to some, but I believe that the Gospels and the majority of the New Testament speak of a truth that is more powerful than a factual claim or proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” epic event. I lean heavily on the words of the Apostle Peter this morning when he says, “Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth, so that you have genuine mutual love, love on another deeply (constantly) from the heart (pure heart)” (v.22) 1
One of the beautiful things about Peter’s letter is that it is directed not to the people “in the church” it to those who have been exiled to far and unpleasant places, “Galatia, Pontus, Asia, … but that have been chosen by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit!!” You see, this is truly the Easter message! By the time this message reached anyone, the words of Jesus’ resurrection, appearances, and His words had occurred and the message was continuing. Jesus was alive and well for all practical purposes, and the exiles of this message were alive and well to do the work of Christ. “You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.” (In the Greek it translates clearer, “through the word of the living and enduring God.”) You see, the truth that Peter is speaking about is the Spirit of truth! The understanding that God is alive and well within the hearts of the exiles through their witness to Jesus Christ! That witness is manifest in love to all whom they come in contact.
Sounds a little powerful, doesn’t it? That maybe, even in the exiled world that we often live in, we have the ability to permeate the world with a truth that God has given us through His son Jesus Christ, to all the world, to all people.
You see, in this scripture we are told that we are “born anew.” The Easter message rings loud and clear, a message that sustains and upholds us to continually love and serve all people!
If we go back and look at the beginning of Peter’s letter, we see it is addressed to those in exile. That is our starting point! Bringing the Good News to people who live in exile, including ourselves. Yet when this is done, what a glorious event.
As we celebrate our International Sunday today, we know good and well that it is not just “a day.” It is what God through Jesus tells us to do each and everyday! The scriptures remind us that we are called to bring hope, love, and truth to those who are bound up, those who are in exile, either by their choice or the fact that we put them there!!
In Peter’s letter, those in exile are geographic in nature, but we have many who are exiled simply by action! “What are these new hymns? Who are these new people? What is this Judicial council? Who are these Carolina fans?” You get the message. We are some times our own worst enemies when we offer a place of safety, often it becomes a place of exile, often times it backfires.
Peter’s message to us today and through out Christendom is simple. “Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart!” Love those who are in your midst, those who are in exile, and those who are simply lost.
We as the church have been called to love those who need God’s love, whether they see it or we see it. Love because of the fruitful gifts of the spirit are essential to the way of the Cross as we continue to struggle to be an Easter People.
AMEN & AMEN