May 31, 2020

Peter's Letter: "Being a Living Temple"

Scripture Reading: I Peter 2:11-12 (I Kings 8:22-30, 37-43)

In our text from Peter’s letter, the metaphor of God’s Living Temple is still working in the background of our reading. As God’s temple: God’s “chosen people, royal priesthood, holy nation” and a “people who belong to the Lord”, how now shall we live as God’s temple? How can we be God’s visible presence in this world? The apostle has something to say about this. Beginning in I Peter 2:11 there is a shift in this letter from teaching to practical application of that teaching. We need to have our theology right but this must also lead to living right. How do we live in this world as God’s living temple? With confidence. If we believe that a dead man walked out of the grave as the Lord of life this will affect how we conduct ourselves in this world.

Questions:

Who built the original temple in Jerusalem?
What object was a symbol of God’s presence in the temple?
What happened to this object?

From the beginning God has desired to live among his people (we see this already in the Garden of Eden) and even when we fell into sin, God pursued us in his grace. The Old Testament temple pointed forward to the coming of Jesus Christ when God would truly and fully dwell among his people. In Christ and by his Holy Spirit God dwells among us. Nothing – not a temple in ruins nor even a pandemic – can separate us from the love of God that is given in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Questions:

What does it mean to be the “Beloved” as Peter is literally calling us in I Peter 2:11?
When Peter says we are “aliens and strangers in the world” is he calling us to turn our backs on the world?

Like the Old Testament Temple, we are God’s spiritual house that is on display for the world. We are not meant to fit in. When the Church’s values and aims are no different than that of the rest of the world, we lose our distinctiveness and we have nothing to offer anyone. Our daily living should reflect that we are followers of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom of love, grace, and truth.

Take a look at Q&A 86 of the Heidelberg Catechism which speaks to why we must strive consciously to live “such good lives among the pagans”.

Q. Since we have been delivered from our misery by grace through Christ without any merit of our own, why then should we do good works?

A. Because Christ, having redeemed us by his blood, is also restoring us by his Spirit into his image, so that with our whole lives we may show that we are thankful to God for his benefits, so that he may be praised through us, so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits,and so that by our godly living our neighbors may  be won over to Christ.

As a “Living Temple” the Church, as the people of God, represents God in this world. It’s not up to the apostle Peter or me to tell you exactly how to think and behave on every minor issue. If you get the main thing right the rest will usually follow.

This means if you are rooted in the Gospel (Jesus Christ: crucified, risen, and Lord over all), you will know the life to which you are called. Wherever God calls you to be, live your life with honour and integrity. We are not saved by our good deeds and behavior. We are saved by grace. However, those saved by grace will do good and will by their daily living bring glory to God. Amen.