1 Peter 1:17-19, “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, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
When I was growing up, my parents were part owners of nine restaurants, and so I spent a lot of time at work with them. Some of my earliest memories are of helping clean and otherwise prepare for lunch and dinner service, washing dishes, pouring and serving non-alcoholic drinks, and even cooking for myself when I was hungry but everyone to busy to cook for me! Although the government may have something to say about this today, I took no offense at being expected to be part of the family business. Indeed, I considered it a great joy. Sure, there was always a lot of work to do, but the most important thing to me was that it allowed me to spend time with my daddy, a man I loved and admired very much.
As I grew and came to understand more about the lives of others with whom we worked and with whom I went to school, I realized that it was a great privilege to call my father, “Daddy.” To this day, I am deeply grateful to the Lord for allowing me to be my father’s son, and to be called by his name.
But as great a privilege as this was, it pales in comparison to the fact that I have now come to know the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I have been granted the privilege of calling him, “Father.” The Lord God Almighty is my Father, and this is a privilege beyond comprehension or explanation.
Such is life for all who love the Lord their God in Christ, and since this is so, Peter wants us to think about our lives and behavior in a certain way. Specifically, since we call on him as Father, and since he judges all of his children without partiality according to what they have done, Peter wants us to live with an appropriate kind of fear for God for as long as we sojourn on this earth. In other words, he wants us to fear our Father more than we fear the world. He wants us to care about what our Father wants more than we care about what the world wants. He wants us to want to please our Father more than we want to please the world.
That said, he was a fellow sojourner with his readers, and he knows that this counsel is right but difficult. Therefore, he reminds us that we do not belong to the earth and we will not be here forever. Indeed, he refers to our stay here as our “time of exile.” Exiles who know they are exiles seek not to conform to the country in which they’ve been forced to live but to the country from which they’ve come and to which they long to return. Exiles who know they are exiles never feel at home in the foreign place, but long for the home that is truly home.
Accordingly, Christians should fix their hope on the time of their return to their true home (1 Peter 1:13) and refuse to take on the culture of the foreign land in which they’ve been made to wait. For we have been transformed from natives of the earth to natives of heaven, not with valuable but perishable things like gold and silver, but with the infinitely valuable and precious blood of Christ. In other words, just made our home in heaven by enduring hell on earth for our sakes.
Since these things are true, we should happily and passionately forsake “the futile ways inherited from [our] forefathers” (1 Peter 1:18), knowing that the holiness of our Father is better and the fruit it produces is more satisfying.
Friends, it is an unspeakable privilege to call God our Father, and it is an incomparable joy to trust him and walk in his ways. So, let us hear and heed the words of Peter, “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” (1 Peter 1:17).
Charles Handren is pastor for Adult Ministries at Cross of Glory Baptist Church and an author residing with his wife Kimberly in Wayzata MN. His wife Kimberly (1991) is a Spanish and English as a Second Language teacher, and his daughter, Rachel (1994), owns and operates a dance studio in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Charles enjoys reading, cycling, hiking, and traveling. He holds degrees from California Baptist University (Riverside, California) and the American Baptist Seminary of the West (Berkeley, California), and is currently a Doctor of Ministry student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.