Hello everyone, my name is James and welcome to Tuesday’s podcast. Today our passage is 1 Peter 1:13-25. The verse we’ll focus on today is v15-16.
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
I first came to Sheffield in 2008 as a student. I was fortunate enough to make some amazing friends quite quickly, thankfully, many of which I’m still in touch with today which is good. Some of you know that I decided to do Biblical Studies as a degree. It was a last minute switch as I had just become a Christian before coming to uni. I actually got my place at Sheffield to study Maths, Financial Management and Accountancy – shout out to all the numbers people listening – I know we have multiple maths teachers within our church… you are special people on a special path … I however was not destined to take that journey… I did a sideways move just before starting. I could have been an accountant – imagine that. What was clear at the time was that I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do in the future. I knew I wanted to study something I enjoyed. I could work hard at. So I made the switch. Now, completely opposite to me… some of my friends REALLY knew what they wanted to do long term. One guy in particular knew he wanted to be a vicar. He just knew and he was very confident about it. Another girl that comes to mind just knew she wanted to be a primary school teacher. She was very very confident about it. Those things have come to pass and they are – by all accounts – very good at what they do.
Have you ever wondered? Why is it that some people just know what they are on this earth to do? I have. How is it that some people just have such clarity? Have they figured out a way of praying or reading the Bible that decodes it in such a way to figure their life out? Whereas when I pray – it sometimes feels like there is a blueprint in heaven with my name on it and God is reluctant to share the details. What if I never work it out and I mess it up… what happens then?
Well I have got good news for everyone listening. I have figured out what you are called to in life. Yes, everyone. And for £10 it can be yours – no just joking. But this Bible passage today is one of the rare times in the Bible that says explicitly what our purpose is. What our calling in life is.
I found this explanation really helpful in my early 20s. When the Bible talks about calling it rarely talks about what we are to do. It almost always talks about who we are to be. What kind of person we are to be. This can have many practical outworkings but it at the start is good theology.
One of God’s replies to the question of calling is to “Be holy, because I am [God] holy.” What does it mean to be holy? Well the word ‘holiness’ can conjure up images such as clean living, pure, maybe even set apart; you might have heard that before when talking about holiness. Simply put, holiness is one of the useful words we have to describe God. And if we want to know what holiness looks like in a lived human example it is Jesus. The person of Jesus. He is the holy one of God. Without making it more complicated than it needs to be. When we hear the words “Be holy, because I am holy” we are hearing the request to be like Jesus because he is holy. There it is. The not-so-secret plan-of-God for your life and my life is that we become like Jesus.
So why do some people still have razor-sharp-clarity? It is a good question to ask but not the most important one right now. A more important question is… “does what I am doing help me become more like Jesus?” It is not a perfect example, but if you’re a professional thief then it is certainly God’s plan for you to do something else. It is not helping you to become like Jesus.
It is helpful to think of calling not as a precise blueprint that we need to discover in reverent prayer and study but more like orienteering or a sat nav. As we make choices through life we will go from point to point – of unexplored terrain – using a map and a compass (the Bible and prayer). There may be no fixed path but ultimately God intends to guide us or reroute us to the goal of holiness. We won’t get every step right. But God does not waste anything, not even a season of lockdown. Another one of those ‘be [this kind of person]” commands in the Bible found in John 15. God’s chosen us to be fruitful. His plan for our lives is to be holy and to be fruitful. I don’t have time to explain that in more detail today but its a fantastic part of the Bible to read alongside these verses in 1 Peter if you have time today.
Here is why this is helpful. It is important to remember that in God’s eyes, who we are is more important that what we do. I, for one, need to remember that every single day. But also as I’ve talked with people through lockdown… many people have had the space and time to think about where life is going, maybe even a change in job, or reassess their priorities and the question of calling or career has come up. Or for those in our church who are single or dating, asking the question of “will I meet someone… or is it God’s will for my life to be single or married?” As Christians we believe that God did not send COVID-19… but he can use it. As the young adult leader in our church I know for some of us listening this has been a great opportunity to ask these questions and for others it has been hard. But we do not need to fear the answers. Remember: the helpful questions are “does this help me to become more like Jesus?” If not, how can I pivot? “Is this helping me to be fruitful? In love, joy peace, patience, self-control etc.” If not, how can I pivot? Like a good Sat Nav – we can be open to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and one day we will reach our destination of holiness and fruitfulness – by the grace of God.
I hope this helps.
God’s plan for our lives is to be Holy and Fruitful.
Jesus, thank you for people smarter than I who helped me to think about these things in my early 20s. It certainly helped me take the pressure off. We pray for those who – at this time – are thinking about the future and life at the moment. We ask you to come alongside and give guidance Lord Jesus. For those who are considering a change in roles – if it is right would you provide some awesome new opportunities here in Sheffield. For those who are thinking about singleness or dating, Jesus, in the same way would you come alongside and give guidance Lord Jesus. Help us to be holy and fruitful in every season – Amen.
BIBLE READING: 1 Peter 1:13-25 (NIV)
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’
Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
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 for ever.’
And this is the word that was preached to you.