Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sermon--Faith's Call to Strangeness

1 Peter 1:17-

A Call to Strangeness

There are many examples of strangeness in our nation today. Watch MTV or many other TV programs for a little while and you’ll see strange Hairstyles and clothes, strange body piercings, strange life-styles, and the occasional strange music.

For much of today’s pop-culture, the stranger something is, the better. Even news channels love to highlight local novelties like the Astroturf covered car, the bottle-cap house, or the man who hasn’t cut his fingernails in 5 years.

People are still drawn to the strange stories of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the Bermuda Triangle. Circuses love to have the “freak show”. Something about our nature desires to see the unusual, the weird or the strange. We’re drawn with a morbid curiosity to these things. Strange is something that doesn’t fit, doesn’t belong, and you’re not sure why it’s there at all.

Most of us in the church criticize the strangeness we see. We do the double-take, our mouths pop open, we may get a disgusted look on our face, shoo our children away and think—“what is the world coming to?”

Do you realize that God has called you and me to strangeness and that He intends strangeness to be an evangelism strategy? He intends to make and grow His church with strangeness. The problem is, there is not enough strangeness in the church that warrants the TV crews showing up every week.

Ours is a world where we are often lured into being near carbon copies of our culture. We’re rewarded with the world’s acceptance when our tastes and standards look more like the prevailing norms and less like the Word of God.

You Must Be Strange. Live as Strangers

1 Pet. 1:17--Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

And if you address as Father the One who judges impartially based on each one's work, you are to conduct yourselves in reverence during this time of temporary residence.

And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites when he judges. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as foreigners here on earth

A stranger could also be translated as a “foreigner” or “sojourner”. A foreigner is a person whose citizenship and loyalty belong to a different country. The sojourner belonged to another nation; but, unlike the foreigner, he came to live (or sojourn) for a period of time away from his home country.

This is how Peter describes his readers in vs. 1—“To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout…”

When the foreigner or sojourner comes to a new country—they bring with them a different culture, a different faith, a different way of life, of thinking. Strange Strangers may look different, talk different, eat different, dress different. From our study last week, this strangeness is the Holiness that is supposed to be the mark of our lives. It is that our lives are set apart for service to God and it is a contrast to the rest of the world who do not live dedicated to Him.

Because we are God’s Elect, His chosen and adopted children, this world is not our home—we’re just a passing through.

How many of you consider Macomb to be your Permanent home—you plan on staying here for the rest of your life? For others, how many of you know this is only temporary?

Our home country is not Illinois, it is not the United States of America, it is not even planet earth. Our home country is the Kingdom of God and the place He has prepared for us. He speaks a language that is not always easy to understand, He does things in ways and for reasons that don’t always make sense to us. He is the essence of character and integrity

Since we are to be Strangers with a different way of life—a holy life, if we are truly calling on the Father with all our lives and hearts, then we Christians should be the ones getting the second looks, we should be the ones that stand out in a crowd because we look different, we sound different, and we act different.

When we move into a new home, how long is it going to take for everyone to figure out that you are a Believer in Christ? If a new person was to move next door, will they see something different about you? Will they think you are strange in the way you talk, in how you treat your spouses and children, in how you refuse to gossip, in how you spend or manage your money, in how you prioritize your life?

Faith in Christ should affect all these areas and more. It should make you strange to non-Christians. Our strangeness is one of those things that make the Fellowship of Believers even more important and vital. Our strangeness is one of those things that God uses to draw attention to the Gospel of Christ. The way we live and treat each other reflects the character of the God we serve.

We are designed to display God’s righteousness and praise and that causes our Witness to shine through. It creates a desire in the hearts of others. Zechariah 8:22-23—“Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you”

If you remember the study on Empowering Kingdom Growth, we are called to be strange in this world by Embracing His Mission—Embodying His Name—and Obeying His Word.

The Reverent Fear and awe of God should be a moment by moment reality for us. There is nothing or no one more powerful than God, no one more worthy of Praise, Honor and Glory.

The great people of faith understood they were strangers.

Hebrews 11:13-16—“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them”

Why Should we be Strange?

God Judges Impartially—He doesn’t play favorites. Everybody’s work gets the exact same pronouncement—NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Believers are no better than anyone else and our works are just the same. What makes the difference in our lives is God. God is the one that gives our works an eternal value.

The one work that gains reward is Accepting what God did for us and receiving His gift of eternal life.

Our Strangeness is because of our relationship with Him. We will not be condemned by His judgment, but our lives will thoroughly examined. And if the righteousness of Christ is found covering our sin, we will live. But because the difference is not us, but God’s work in us, we must let Him change us and make us strangers so other people can be strangers too.

You have permission to be strange. Being strange is an expectation of God. We are strangers to the death of this world—and citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

We had an empty way of life. While all those that fit in and belong in the world think they are living it up, enjoying their lives they are really empty.

When alcoholism gets passed on from father to son—it’s empty, when indifference to the things of God gets passed on for generations—it’s an empty life of work and sleep. But that is fitting in with the world.

That’s why people are desperate for entertainment, for boating, for sports—anything that will prevent them from thinking and dwelling on what their life is all about, why they exist at all.

All of that changed the moment we came to Christ. You no longer have an empty life. Part of what makes you strange as a Christian is that you are given a purpose, you are given a reason for living now and a future hope and expectation.

Fulfilling God’s Purposes, Growing His Kingdom. You may not know all of the details right now, but you can find your reason for being in the WoG and when you listen to the Spirit of God.

We should also be Strange because Our Redemption did not come cheap. The cost to move us from citizens of this world to citizens of heaven was a pricey one, gold or silver or works did not make it happen it was the Precious Blood of Christ (v. 19) the perfect Lamb of God

READ 17-21--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 forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

Peter goes on to reveal how Jesus was Chosen in Eternity—Revealed in History—and Changing Lives Today. It is through Christ we are even able to believe (vs. 21).

Nothing else makes you strange in this world but your faith. Every strange bit of clothing, music, tattoos or piercing is the normal expression of this world. What makes you strange, what makes you truly different is whether you have placed your faith in Christ. Have you done that? Have you accepted the call to be strange? I know I have, I’m thankful many others in this room and around the world have chosen to be strange. Faith calls you to strangeness.

Are you strange enough to be considered from another country?

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