January 18, 2014
"Prepare Your Mind"
[1 Peter 1:13-25]
Pastor Kenny Lee
"Prepare Your Mind"
[1 Peter 1:13-25]
Pastor Kenny Lee
We’re going through a series on 1 Peter and we’re still in the 1st chapter. Can you believe it? This thing is so jammed packed, we can’t get out of it even after three weeks. But I think it’s really important for us to know what Christianity is all about. Peter wrote this letter about 20 to 30 years after the death of Jesus. That means that people who have seen Jesus are still around. People are interested in Christianity and want to know what it’s all about. The problem is this, there’s a tyrant named Nero who burned Rome and later on blamed the Christians for burning Rome. So the environment for Christianity was not a popular religion. And that’s just putting it very mildly. Christians were being persecuted for their faith. And that was weird because it came out of a Jewish religion and the Jews thought that they were the real chosen ones. We today don’t face blatant persecution but today in our society Christianity is kind of frowned upon. I think it comes out of a Judeo-Christian background. We all know what Christianity is all about because we grew up hearing about it. Or your parents may be uber Christian so you grow up in a quasi-Christian environment. So you think that you know! You don’t. So because Peter is in this environment, we wonder how Peter confronts this issue and talks to these Christians. We see that it worked because of us. Look at all of you – you are the fruit of Peter’s ministry. Do you get that? If Peter and these apostles did not write these letters, the movement would’ve just died right then and none of us would be here. So obviously this letter worked. We’re going to check out the anatomy of this letter.
The reality of who you are
To confront this issue, Peter starts off with a very theological instruction. It’s not like, “Come on, you can do it. Keep a stiff upper lip. We can win.” Rather, he gives very theological introduction. Peter wants to you to have the right understanding, to see the realities of this world. And what he says, is that we have the wrong reality. He offers a true reality to us. In our society, it’s about keeping it real. Keeping it real is synonymous with being mad all the time. Is being real really about being pissed off all the time? If you were really keeping it real, sometimes you would cry, sometimes you are happy, and sometimes you are mad. Peter wants to you to be real. He wants to tell you what the reality is. The reason why you don’t know is because we all have this amazing ability to be delusional. Look at reality shows like American Idol. Some of those people think they are amazing singers but … you’re not. When I was younger, I thought I could cut a rug or two but when I met people in Zumba I realized, not so much. I began to see the reality of it.
And that’s what Peter wants you to do. Peter acknowledges that Christianity is not that popular. In fact, the people at that time are being scrutinized for it. They feel like rejects and may be suffering. But Peter says that’s good because they are rejects. They are exiles. But he says, “Don’t worry, you’re chosen”. Huh? So they are chosen rejects? So Peter is confronting you with the question, “Who am I accepted by and who am I rejected by?” Peter says, you are rejected by the world but accepted by God. Chosen by God. Elected by God. So my question for you today is, “Do you want to be an enemy of the state but elected by God? Or do you want to be an enemy of God and chosen by the state? I am telling you, 10 times out of 10, you want to be on God’s side. What Peter goes on to say is how amazing God is. And how amazing it is to be chosen by God.
Prophecies written to us
But to what degree are we chosen? Peter says this in verse 12, “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you,”. Peter is saying, the reason why the Old Testament prophets wrote these things was for you guys. They were talking about Jesus Christ and were really talking to you guys. Prophets like Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, all these people had you in mind! Peter goes on in verse 12, “when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.” Do you know how amazing salvation is? That God would choose me. That God would choose you. Do you know one of the reasons why you’re not a Christian? Do you know why you don’t think God is important? It’s because you don’t know the nature of who you are. You don’t care about anything. The only thing you care is about yourself. That’s how we all are. You don’t know the nature of who you are. You think you’re okay. You’re delusional. We’re all delusional. But if we really think about ourselves, we know that we’re not. And if you knew how much Jesus loves you, if you knew how much God loves you, you would not be where you are now. I wouldn’t be where I am now. In the light of all that, so what do we do with all that? What do we do with all of this information?
When I was younger I would ask questions like, “When will I ever use algebra? What good is it?”. But one time in a seminary class I was learning about Nepal and I asked myself the same question. Why would Nepal ever matter to me? But what was cool was a couple of months ago, there were these people from Nepal that came to our church! So I busted out everything I knew about Nepal to them. There I used it! My point is, we all think that knowing is about familiarity. We have this notion that we google something, and then we know it. You think you can read the cliff notes of War and Peace and “know” the book? But in Christianity, that is not it. See, it starts with your mind.
In verse thirteen it says, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action,[a] and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” It starts with “therefore”. Meaning, because of everything that came before, prepare your mind. When my son has practice I tell him, “Hey, get ready for practice”. When there’s a game I tell him, “You better prepare your mind now. You better get your mind ready to win.” What Peter is saying is, “Prepare your mind.” It all starts with preparing your mind. But there’s a purpose in your preparation. The purpose is for action. What you know has to be translated into action. Don’t think you know what Christianity is all about. You don’t understand how important Christianity is. You don’t understand that. You prepare for action and one of the main things Christianity enables you to do is to have a sober-mind. In other words, you get to see the reality of who you really are. That’s the only way you can exist in the world in the right way. Don’t you get annoyed at people that don’t know the reality of who they are? People who are socially out of place because they think of themselves too highly or low. What the Bible does is it allows you to be sober-minded. Why aren’t we sober-minded? It’s because of the fact that we are insecure. We have so many defense mechanisms up that you have to kind of like tell yourself that you’re okay. You have to convince yourself that you’re kind of alright. For example, you go into a group and you’re afraid that they won’t accept you. So you act like you won’t accept them. You separate yourself from them. But in your heart, you wish that they would accept you. And what Peter says is, prepare your mind - know the reality of who you are. If you are accepted by Jesus, Jesus loves you so much. He wants you so much. And because of that, you can have the comfort of realizing who you really are. Because that’s the gospel you know.
Peter is saying, understand what the gospel is saying. The fact of the matter is, we’re all sinners. I don’t need to judge you. People don’t need to judge you. The Bible does a great job at judging all of us. It says, “All have sinned”. The more that I become a Christian, the more I realize how heinous I am. At this point, you realize this and beat yourself to death. “I’m awful! I’m terrible”. But the Bible says you can’t do that either. So what am I allowed to do? You’re allowed to know that even though you are that much of a sinner, boy does God love you. My, he adores you. He thinks you’re precious. You’re chosen by Him. And God guarantees you success in the end. And that success is in Him. He guarantees you heaven. A place with Him where you will not go hungry. It’s the ultimate retirement plan. A lot of people are uncertain about their retirement. But for Christianity, the end is guaranteed! You don’t have to worry about your future. I’m not saying you don’t have to worry about school, things like that. But you don’t have to obsess over it.
So what should your mindset be? Peter says, have the mind of a child. Not just any child but the mind of an obedient child. What’s the difference? One listens and one doesn’t. I tell my children wonderful things. I tell them hold daddy’s hand before crossing the road. This is how you should study. Don’t talk to strangers. These things I tell them because it’s just good for them. There were many times I didn’t listen to my mother and I have a lot of scars to show it off. My son has a scar right above his eyebrow because he didn’t listen to me. I told him, “Don’t be rough with your brother and spin on a chair or you’ll fall off and hit your head on the corner of a table”. But of course they don’t listen. What Peter says is, “Prepare your mind for action and be like an obedient child”. Obedient to what? Obedient to God’s word. We all think that we know the Bible. I made my career as a minister but I myself don’t know. When I do Bible study I just don’t know God’s word. I need to be reminded all the time. The Bible instructs us on how to live in all aspects of life. Why does God want us to be like obedient children? We’re a reflection of God. When my sons do something not so good, I personally get so hurt because they are a reflection of me. We’re a reflection of God. You shall be holy as I am holy.
Ransomed from the futile ways of our fathers
In verse 17 it says this, “ And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,”. All the times that you are here on Earth as an exile, act accordingly. You call yourself a Christian? Then act accordingly. How are we to do this? This is important. When I was reading this, I was like “This is the verse!”. You know how Jesus says, “Hate your mother and father and come follow me”. It doesn’t really mean you go up to your parents and say, “Mom and Dad, Pastor Kenny said to hate you and follow Jesus.” That’s not it!! That’s not what Jesus means and that’s not what I mean. It means this – learn from scripture. You’re born again into a new family! That family is the church. Learn the culture of the church, learn the culture of scripture and bring that back to your family. Here’s the support text, “ knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers,”. Do you know what that means? Those who are married or about to get married, listen to this. If you don’t have Christ, your future will be your mother and father. if you do not have Christ, if you do not learn Christianity, your marriage will be just like your mother and father. Seriously even for me, when I argue with my life or say something to my son, I would be like, “Where did my dad come from??”. When I argue, “Woa, my dad .. my mom!”. I grew up saying that I would be like them when I raise my own children or get married. I thought I was going to have a Korean miniseries-like experience. But it’s not like that. Why? “ knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefather”. That would be a fun conversation to have with your mom and dad. It may be kind of awkward but it would be fun though. Listen. Listen. Listen. Jesus came to free you from that.
He came into this world to free you from that. If you guys are married or think you know who it is, it’s not too late. God came to change that too. God came to redeem all that. He came to redeem your relationship with your mother and father. God came to redeem your relationship with each other. “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” My parents are so gung-ho with success. They tell me, “Do you know your cousins a doctor? He went to Yale. Your other cousin won a Grammy for playing cello. You know one of these days, Yale will perish. Harvard will be destroyed. One of these days, Hollywood will be gone too. But the precious blood of Jesus will be there forever. For an eternity. Past the grave. Stop following the ways of your forefathers. They’re futile. They will be destroyed. Know the imperishable love of God. We all have an ideology. And you can inherit the ideology of your parents and the world. Everyone has an ideology. Those people that believe in “coexist” are the most closed minded. They won’t hang out with people that accept only one thing. That’s being closed-minded. Everyone has an ideology. Are you going to take one by the world or one given by God Himself?
What’s the difference between Christianity or any kind of ideology? Did you know Christianity is the only religion that you don’t have to work for to get to heaven? Every other religion, you have to work really hard for it. You have to pray five times to mecca everyday all your life. You have to keep all these laws. You can’t eat certain foods. Any kind of “ology” requires you to do something. Christianity is the only one that gives you an identity. You are my child. I have adopted you into my family. And because of that identity, go. That’s what I tell my children because I learn from the Bible. I may not act it perfectly but that’s it. What I tell them is, “Son, you’re my child. Can you act accordingly?”. Is it, “You must be perfect. You gotta be awesome, and then you can be my child”. No. No. No. Christianity says, “Because you are my child, act accordingly.” Christianity is the only religion that gives you the reward first and then tells you to act upon it. Are you a chosen child? Do you want to be? You may be unsure or not want to be but don’t be so quick to say that. You’re here for a reason. You could be anywhere in the world right now but you happen to be here where there’s a middle aged man talking to you and asking you, “Do you want to be a Christian? Do you want to know Christ?” Maybe God is talking to you right now. He probably is. Why? Because the Holy Spirit lives is in me. I’m guided by the Holy Spirit, talking about scripture. Will you choose Christ? It’s a choice. You can learn about the consequences of that choice later but make a choice. Will you commit? For those who are already a Christian, commit. Come back to Christ now. Is it easy? Yeah it’s easy. You say, “I turn my life to you, Lord”. Jesus Christ loves you so much. God adores you so much. I don’t know what God is made up of. There’s this stuff that God is made up of. But Jesus Christ humbled Himself and became man. Became like me. Can you imagine giving up all that power? Jesus Christ became man for me. What is He now? Still a man. He’s 100% God yes. But He’s still a man. He still has the scars. But He became a human and that’s extremely humble. He could’ve been the king of this world. But rather, He was born to common lower-middle class people (Mary and Joseph). He didn’t have to die. But He did die. And He could’ve died in a very spectacular way like in a field of battle. But He didn’t do that. He died like a common criminal at the hands of men whom He created before the foundation of this world. And He did that because He loves you and I so much. That has to do something to you. If you don’t, I feel sorry for you. What kind of life will you live if that doesn’t move you?