Links Daily Devotional

Preaching to the Choir

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Peter 4:3-5, NIV)

“Preaching to the choir” has long been a common Christian idiom for telling those who are righteous what it means to do good. Presumably, these are the people who already know.

But we would never suggest that top-class athletes, such as the world’s best golfers, don’t need a pep talk now and then. These competitors need to hear from their coach, their teammates, their caddie, themselves, just what it means to gut it out and commit to winning. Links Player Joe Durant has credited his wife with doing the job when his career hung in the balance.

So there is a reason we for going back to Scripture, even those passages we have heard again and again. We need to be reminded in the thick of the world’s allurements what it is we are supposed to be doing as followers of Jesus and why it is that we would do these things.

In his first general letter to “God’s elect…scattered” throughout his part of the world, Peter spent some powerful words on delineating the difference between living like pagans and living like, well, God’s elect.

If you were not raised in a righteous home, you likely spent more than a bit of time in the pagan pursuits Peter listed—debauchery, lust, drunkenness, and so on—before you surrendered your heart to Jesus. Most Western cultures give broad leeway for such living, especially when we are young adults. If this was your life, you know firsthand the difference between that “flood of dissipation” and a life of peace and purpose in Christ. It is quite possible you know exactly why you don’t want to go back there.

And yet, the intense resolve it can take to persist in “clean living” in the face of the world’s beckon is aided best when we recognize why we want to stay on Jesus’ narrow path. Peter offers that explanation, too, when he reminds us that we all will be judged by the one who knows our ways.

But we must never forget the Good News of Jesus—that His blood purchased our salvation. The gospel, Peter went on to tell his readers in verse 6, is what truly compels us. Though we may be judged “strange” for our righteousness by those who live with the body in mind, we “live according to God in regard to the spirit.” That is, we know there is a deeper, eternal part of us that recognizes and adheres to a higher calling.

This is the very thing we need to keep telling ourselves, the spiritual kick in the butt we need on a regular basis. God’s way is better; it is higher. And when we can keep that in mind, we want to avoid not only the “big sins” on Peter’s list, but every little trace of gospel undermining that seeks to tear us from excellence in our Lord.

Jeff Hopper

August 15, 2011

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