"Past, Present, Future"
[1 Peter 4:1-6]
Pastor Kenny Lee
Just to tell you what’s going on in Peter. During the time of Peter, there is persecution; things are not going well for the Christians. Christianity is just starting, just emerging. Jesus Christ died maybe about 25-30 years back and Christianity is just beginning. So people are looking at Christianity and saying, “What is this?” Not only that, but people are actively persecuting them because they can’t really understand. Because they can’t really understand, there are all these rumors going around. They talk about communion and they’re like “They’re eating this mans flesh and drinking his blood, so are they cannibals?” There are all these fears going around and so Christianity is not popular. During this time, Cesar by the name of Nero, he’s the king and he burned Rome and what he does is he blames the Christians. So you can understand what kind of culture this is, it’s a very diverse culture. Peter is writing to people from Asia Minor, so they’re very different. Kind of like ours, not as intense, but kind of like ours. Christianity is not really popular these days, although we live in a country founded by Christian forefathers. So this is very relevant to us. Because of that, what does it mean to live for Christ? How do we live for Christ in this age and culture?
When I was growing up, I don’t know if you had one of these people in your class. But we had this one guy in our class, we live in the Internet age, so everything is videotaped and everything is recorded, so I’m not going to say any names, just in case. What are the chances that this guy would be listening to my sermon? I met him when I was in third grade, we were classmates all the way until about seventh/ eighth grade, went to different high schools and everything. Well anyways, this guy he was a little weird. He was odd, lanky, scrawny, had a bowl hair cut. And everybody knew he was weird, so all of us would look at him, because he would do weird things. We would have art class and he would eat crayons. He was the guy that would eat glue and eat crayons. And this one time, he would eat a red crayon and he would eat a blue crayon. I went to a Catholic school, so this girl, our classmate, would raise her hand and say, “Sister, (at that time it was Sister Clarice) Sister Clarice”. “Yes So-and-So?” “So-and-So is eating crayons.” And that guy would say “Sister, no! I’m not eating crayons, I’m not eating crayons at all!” And Sister Clarice goes “Come here, smile.” He’s like (in a muffled voice) “I’m not eating crayons, seriously! I’m seriously not eating crayons!” “Look, smile.” So he smiles, red, white, and blue. He was weird, we grow up in early age, and we don’t like weird people. So during that time, I would go to church, all these people, my bible study teacher would say, “You got to be nice to those people. You got to be nice to people.” And Monday comes around, and I feel superficially convicted, and so I went up to that person and became friends with him, just a little bit. I noticed something and this was one of the first times I recognized this, so that’s why it’s so burned in my mind. I noticed something. People started treating me different. People started associating me with him. In the cafeteria, some of the people I normally sat with wouldn’t sit with me. Somehow I was weird. I wish I could say right now that I stood up for him and I did what was right. I wish it were one of those movies where all he had to do was take off his glasses, and he’s a good looking guy and show him some manners. “All I had to do was take off my glasses, and that’s it! I’m this jock all of a sudden!” But that wasn’t the case. People started treating me really weird, so what started doing was I started feeling the effects of the world. My fourth grade world… And I stopped hanging out with him. And somehow I gained all my friends back.
We don’t want to be weird. We learn from an early age that by being different like that or being associated with that is not good. We want to stand out. He’s a standout athlete; he’s a standout scholar. Wow, she’s a standout beauty. Man, that guy stands out he’s handsome. We want to be that though, don’t we? In other words, what the world values, we want to stand out in that. In terms of the world not valuing certain things, if we standout in something like that, you’re kind of weird. It used to be like that in the hippie generations, people used to really make fun of that, especially in the 80s. Because in the 80s, it was all about making money, it’s still all about making money. People that started making money, finally realized that those people who are artsy and all that, that’s where the real money is. And so now in your age, in your culture right now, being artsy is cool. That’s why ergonomic design is cool; gentrification is cool. When artsy people go into places its really cool, like Soho, like Tribeca in New York. Even Fells Point, all these creative people go in there, money comes in and looks really pretty and that really cool now. But it wasn’t like that.
The funny thing is, God calls us to be different. God calls us to be unique. So today I’m going to talk about our past life. I think it was John Stott, who says that we have two volumes of our lives. Before we were saved and after we are saved. In other words there is a difference between volume one and volume two. But so many times in my experience, that volume one and volume two gets kind of mushed around. Its not a clear chapter break. In books, there’s a clear chapter break. Chapter one, this. Chapter two, the continuation of this. There’s a clear chapter break, but so often that chapter break is not quite there. Its like volume one, we get introduced to Christ and it keeps on going. According to John Stott, there are two chapters. Two clear chapters. Before Christ. After Christ.
We’re going to start with verse, “33For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.” Life without Christ we do what we want to do. In other words, we do what we fell like doing. We do what makes us happy. We don’t do what makes us sad. We follow the patterns of this world, acting out of our sensuality, acting out of our passions of our eyes. It doesn’t merely have to do with sexuality or anything. Out of the passions of our eyes, out of our own greed, trying to satisfy our own selves. Drunkenness. Being filled with something else. A lot of times why we do the things we do, why we over-drink? Why do we have addictions and stuff like that? The reason why we have that is because of the fact because we don’t live in accordance with God’s will, there’s a lot of stress in our lives. There’s a lot of stress and all that. So what we do to forget that is we get drunk, we smoke, and we get into drugs, and many other things, so that we can forget about our lives. It makes us feel good. Because when we think about the realities of the world it doesn’t quite make us feel good, does it? To make us feel good we get into things like that, we get into heavy drinking, we get into sensuality, we get into drinking parties, we want to hang out with people who are just like us, so that’s what we do. Lawless idolatry. And that’s how we lived before we meet Christ. But Peter says something very different now, the present. That’s the past and now in the present, Peter says something different. In verse 4 “4 With respect to this they (the Gentiles, your former friends) are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you”. As a Christian have you experienced that? As a Christian have you experienced that? That you used to hang out with these people, certain types of people. You used to chill out with them, you used to drink with them, you used to party with them, you used to play World of War craft with them. You used to watch videos with them, you used to listen to music with them, and you used to do all of that. And all of a sudden, things changed. Let me get to know you a little bit better. How are you doing? Things start changing a little bit. Because you know why? Christ matters and because of that you change. Somehow your relationship with God matters and because of that it affects the things you used to do. And your friends are surprised. Naturally they’re surprised. “What’s going on? What are you doing? Why can’t we just drink it up? Why can’t we smoke it up? Why can’t we do the same thing that we’ve done?”