“God’s Missional Community – do grow up!” (John MacDiarmid)

Message Preached at Poole Christian Fellowship on Sunday 26th January 2014

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Reference: 1 Peter 1 v 23 – 2 v 12

“Do grow up!” is a comment made by generation of parents to their children. Broadly speaking it comes when children or adults behave in a way that is younger than their actual age. Everyone expects a baby to behave like a baby, and a teenager to behave like a teenager. The problem arises when   a teenager is still behaving like a toddler!

Growing up in fact is a natural process physically that needs to be matched emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

In this passage, Peter, having reminded his readers who they are, what God has done for them and how they need to keep their eyes on the journey home, now encourages them to move forward form being baby Christians, to grow up into maturity in order to be the missional community of people that God desires them to be.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,

“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

And this is the word that was preached to you.

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Like Peter’s readers we need to grow up!

1. A New Start

Peter reminds the readers that their Christian life started with a new birth, a time when the Spirit of God took the word of God and planted it in their lives. The contrast is well-made with natural birth. In natural birth a baby is conceived by the seed of the mother and the father. Wonderful and miraculous though this event is, the only thing you can be sure of about such a life is that it will come to an end, as the Isaiah passage shows us. However, the new birth is by means of seed, the word of God that lasts forever – and therefore its fruit lasts forever. The new Christian is therefore an eternal being! What   a miracle. As with every newborn baby there is a bundle of potential – the potential of the new Christian is beyond imagining…if we will grow up!

2. A New Life

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other

Peter recognises that the new believer has taken his first baby steps. He has started the journey toward becoming like Jesus by taking some steps of obedience, maybe baptism (which comes up later), and the result of this is that there is genuine love for his fellow believers. The journey has started, is under way and now it’s time to press forward to becoming an adult.

3. A New Responsibility

Salvation is God’s work. No one else can produce it or even imitate it. But the responsibility to grow up, as in the natural world is a shared responsibility. A child needs to learn to take responsibility for his own life is he is to grow up. So we now,as baby Christians have a responsibility to take steps to grow up. Peter suggests three:

Sort out your relationships

love one another deeply, from the heart.

This is the second time that the word love is used in this verse, but the Greek word is different the second time. The thought is that the adult Christian has moved from the phileo affectionate love to agape, giving, serving love. Love in this sense is not about a deep emotion for someone else (which in any case is impossible to produce) it is about a sustained decision, made in the inmost reaches of our being, that we will determine to act in the best interest of others. It is about moving from life being all about me, to being all about opportunities to serve.

Get rid of the Rubbish

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

Here is a list of things that we would all like to think are not true of us! If that were so it is difficult to see why they would be here. The fact is that all of us have the remnant of the old nature which needs to be crucified with Christ. What Peter is saying is that as we grow up we need to learn to put to death all the things that act on a contrary way to the love referred to above. Vices like the ones in this list are all things that we find ourselves drawn to, and our future maturity depends on us putting them to death.

Watch Your diet

“You are what you eat”. This is true in the physical world – it is even more true in the spiritual world.

Just as a poor diet leads to long term health issues, so a poor diet spiritually means that we will never mature, never be able to stand up against the onslaught of a hostile world and find it difficult to take hols of the life for which God took hold of us.

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

The diet that God promises will take us to maturity is a solid, long term diet of the word of God. Peter says that our need for it should be like that of a baby waking in the night and waking up it’s parents whilst it demands that food that will enable it to grow.

Similarly, we need to crave the word of God, both to be fed by it by Ministers of the word and to feed ourselves with it as we daily spend time in the word of God.
So… as we press onto maturity…

Love one another, get rid of the rubbish…and keep the healthy.

Then we will grow up in our salvation.

John MacDiarmid
January 2014