Exceptional ordinary lives

1 Peter 2:4-6 speaks of Christian being built into a new temple, through which the presence and the blessing of God are mediated to the world.  2v11-12 spells out a bit more what this presence of God would look like.  The presence of God experienced in our lives lived together is such that it demonstrates the truth that it is good to live under the reign of King Jesus.   Those who do not believe would (v12) see the goodness of our lives and glorify God.  That is the language of salvation.

In this post I want to explore the nature of these good lives lived together.  Is this a call to some utopian community?  Some kind of exceptional life that most of us can aspire to but seldom reach?  Well, yes I guess the Christian life is exceptional but it also very ordinary.

The spheres in which we demonstrate that is good to live under the reign of King Jesus – relating to government & obeying authorities (2v13-17), unjust suffering (perhaps particularly in our daily work) (2v19-20),  marriage (3v1-7) and beauty and fashion (3v3).  The context in which we demonstrate the presence of God and lives these lives of goodness are very ordinary and commonplace – work, home, country.  The roles we play are hardly exceptional – citizen, wife, husband, employee (slave often being more akin to the role of a servant or domestic worker in those times).   We are called to show the world that it is good to live under the reign of King Jesus in the very ordinary spheres of everyday life, in the very ordinary roles of everyday life.

This is on one hand exceptionally liberating – anyone can do this.  This is not Christianity for the special, the exceptional, the superstar – no this is Christianity for everyone.  The call is to live as citizens of the Kingdom in the very ordinary roles and contexts of everyday life.

But the Christian life is far from ordinary it is profoundly counter-cultural and counter-intuitive.  Make the king wish all his citizens were Christians (2v13-14).  Be the wives every husband desires (3v1-6).  Make every slave-owner wish his slaves were Christians (2v18-20).  Be the best husbands (3v7). Submit to authority (2v13), honour the king (2v17), love each other deeply (4v8), be good and considerate even when treated unfairly (2v19-21), do not retaliate in rage (2v23), lives of purity and reverence (3v2), radiant inner beauty (3v3-4), considerate (3v7), respectful (3v7) , live in harmony with others (3v8), be sympathetic & compassionate (3v8), repay insult with blessing (3v9), offer hospitality (4v9), not greedy for money but eager to serve (5v2), clothed with humility (5v5), self-controlled (5v8).

Steve Timmis has been known to say his great gospel strategy is to get Christian to be the neighbours everybody wants.  Ordinary lives lived in obedience to an exceptional King.

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