Part 3 in the series What is the Gospel?
May 31, 2015 | Sermon text: 1st Peter 2
We hear a lot in the news today about people’s rights; rights that were violated, rights that should be guaranteed, people that are entitled to equal rights, etc. If we read carefully the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, we would see that we have not only rights but responsibilities. They used to teach things like citizenship and civics but we don’t hear much about that anymore. An individual has the right, for example, to a trial by a jury of one’s peers. For there to be a jury trial there must also be citizens who are able and willing to serve on a jury. I’ve heard a lot of talk and read blog posts and articles on how to get out of serving on a jury. “Any person with half a brain can get out of jury duty.” If that is true, and Americans continue sharing these articles and take them to heart, then should you ever do end up on the wrong side of the judicial system the jury hearing your case will be made of the 12 men and women with below average IQ’s that lacked the ability to beat the system and avoid serving. Hopefully that’s not where we are as a society. There must be rights and responsibilities for civilization to flourish. Some things are both a privilege and an obligation.
The Gospel is gift, freely offered to all and a privilege to those that receive it. The 23rd Psalm is a beautiful listing of the privileges that come from following the Good Shepherd. We are blessed by God’s providence in the everyday needs, protected from the enemies that surround us and have eternal fellowship with the Heavenly Father. These things are true for Christians as they were true for David in the Old Testament. We have received salvation from the shed blood of Jesus Christ and have received the Holy Spirit. We possess a great treasure in jars of clay (2 Cor. 4) which leads us, comforts us, and empowers us to do great things for the sake of the Gospel. We are the family of God, the bride of Christ, and will sit down at the marriage supper before entering our eternal reward. Hallelujah!
The Gospel is also our obligation. 1 Peter 2 describes walking in light while the rest of the world stumbles in darkness and of our being built into a spiritual house; but it also describes us as priests. The priesthood of the believer means that we are privileged to worship and serve the Holy and Living God but also to serve others. We bring the sacrifice of praise, which is better than the blood of bulls and turtle doves but is our reasonable service. Those of us that walk in light must let that light shine before others. Consider these words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount:
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matt 5:13-16
We are to conform to the image of Christ as we read his words and follow his example. This is a blessing to us and to others around us. We have received the Gospel and been sent into fields white unto harvest to share the Gospel. We partake and share at the same time, building the Kingdom of God as we are being built into the Kingdom.
The Gospel is our privilege and our obligation. With rights come responsibilities. Interestingly enough 1 Peter goes on to teach a lesson about civics (Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. v. 17). As we prepare for communion this morning, the chapter ends with encouragement to continue despite persecution and a reminder that Christ suffered and died to bring us salvation. We can die to sin (v. 24) and live to righteousness, both privileges and obligations to do so.
Peace and God bless.