17: “You pray to God and call Him Father, and He judges each person's work equally. So while you are here on earth, you should live with respect for God." - We are to live in "reverent fear" (NRSV) of God not for fear of what He might do but because of the love, grace, and mercy He has already provided.
18-19: "You know that in the past you were living in a worthless way… But you were saved from that useless life. You were bought, not with something that ruins like gold or silver, 19but with the precious blood of Christ…" - God knows the depths of darkness that resides in our hearts and because of this darkness there was only one way to insure an eternal life with Him - the ultimate sacrifice of the holiest and most pure.
21: "Through Christ you believe in God, who raised Christ from the dead and gave Him glory. So your faith and your hope are in God." - Again, Peter stresses the Gospel message that does not end with the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross but with the Resurrection that assured Christ's place in glory and our eternal hope in God.
23: "You have been born again, and this new life did not come from something that dies, but from something that cannot die. You were born again through God's living message that continues forever." - Christ's victory over death was not a one-time event. The Resurrection occurs in the hearts of every believer every day of their lives and forever.
Points to Contemplate:
Do you fear God?
Are you worried that He might get too close? Do you not want Him to judge your every deed? Are there details in your life - your heart - which you do not want Him to see? Are you able to turn to the all-powerful, all-knowing God and call Him Father? Mother? Abba? Are you able to give Him the respect He deserves? Can you see that it is through an attitude of reverent respect for God that He becomes more capable of reaching into your life, filling it with love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness?
Have you been saved? Was your life heading off into the wrong direction? Had you lost your way? Had the sins of hatred, sexual desire, selfish indulgence, or uncontrollable anger been leading you into the darkness of hopelessness? Were you being destroyed from the inside out? Was all the gold and silver that you cherished turning to rust? Was your life a shambles and your future grim? Perhaps you were just lonely and uncertain of your purpose? When God came into your heart, did you not feel saved? Did you not feel His loving arms envelop you like a life preserver? Were you not lifted and carried to safe place where you could begin to see the wonders of God and the glorious future for you He holds in store? Are you saved?
Are you born again? And again? Perhaps you have come to recognize that Jesus died for your sins. Perhaps you look at the nails in His hands or the lashes across His body and realize that these are there because of the sins you have committed. Now what? Does it end there? Do you continue to look at the cross filled with a bloody Jesus as a constant reminder of what He has done for you? Or is now the time to look to the empty tomb and realize that the past is gone? Do you see that Jesus was raised from the dead so that you could live a new life? Do you accept that as an Easter person, you are called to rise up each day, newly born and freshly remade, to rejoice and share the Good News to the world that Christ is alive? Promises of the Gospel:
God has provided us with an amazing gift of Grace. It is a wonder that He has bothered to save wretches like us at all. We can dwell on that gift forever. We can focus on His saving grace and the destroyed lives out of which He has reached in and lifted. We can choose to focus on the rusted out remnants of gold and silver that we use to hold dear. However, Easter has provided us a new perspective. Because Jesus is no longer on the cross and has made a victorious exit from the clutches of death, our lives are remade. We are not to focus on the sins of our past but on the glorious future God has in store. We are born anew, freshly whole and completely clean. Our faith and hope is now in God. With the empty tomb in mind, we are to leave that very personal, even selfish, victory over sin which God has provided in our lives and move out into the world sharing the Good News that Christ is alive. We are reborn for the purpose of bringing His light into the world so that all shall live.
Amen! Behold, the old things are passed away. All things are become new. I'm so, so, so thankful that the God we serve is full of mercy and grace for the likes of people like me. I was lost, but now I'm found...