“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10, NIV)
When I was a teenager, I heard a preacher make an impassioned plea in regard to the work of Jesus on the cross: “Jesus went through a lot of trouble just to get your attention!”
Even a cursory understanding of the life and work of Jesus reminds us that there was a great deal of inconvenience in the life of Jesus: His birth was a struggle for His parents and for Him, He grew up in an arduous time and in a difficult part of town, He faced growing opposition as He sought to usher in a new kingdom, and He was put to death in the cruelest way imaginable.
Indeed, Jesus subjected Himself to much trouble to “get our attention.” Too often as we point this out to unbelievers, we do the hard work of Jesus a disservice. Certainly, Jesus wanted to get our attention, but He sought more than just a one-and-done decision. The purpose behind Jesus’ struggle was not so that we can raise a hand, put our names on a list, and make future reservations for heaven.
Instead of focusing on the decision alone, the Bible’s emphasis regarding Jesus’ suffering is on a whole new way of living: a holy way.
The passage cited above (1 Peter 2:9-10) asserts that, by following Jesus, we become part of a “holy nation,” a group of people who is called to be the people of God. That calling does not begin at death when we receive a heavenly reward. Rather, this new way of living begins the moment we say “yes” to Jesus who calls us by His Spirit to actively follow Him.
It is no wonder that we in the Wesleyan tradition refer to salvation as “initial sanctification.” This means that our pardon from God through Jesus Christ is not the final step—it is step one of an eternal journey! It is a dynamic, life-changing, and world-changing relationship with our Creator, who has always been in the business of building His community.
We receive this mercy—this pardon—so that we may assemble together to be instruments of God’s pardon and invitations to holiness to the rest of the world.
That is what all the inconvenience was about, and that is what the kingdom is about today.
Prayer for the week:
Dear Lord, no matter what trials await us tomorrow, may we never forget the blessings you have shown us. Help me cling to you as my anchor. Help me remember your steadfast love and faithfulness for me in all things. In Jesus' Name, Amen. (A prayer from Alistair Begg)
Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.
Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.