Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ever wish you were an angel?

Wouldn't it be cool to be an angel? Some of them stand in the presence of God himself. Most of them, the good ones anyway, don't seem to sin. They can appear and disappear. But today's reading from 1 Peter says we have something they don't: salvation. This verse is talking about being saved, the goal of our faith. God told the prophets something about this salvation, but...
It was revealed to them [the prophets] that they were not serving themselves but you, 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.
1 Peter 1:12 [italics added]
Isn't that interesting? Angels long to look into things that have been proclaimed to us. We have experienced things that angels in some sense don't "get."

Peter is very excited about this "salvation" deal; the whole first chapter is all about it. It is really good news. Let me see if I can sum it up here:
  • He gave us new birth into a living hope (3)
    By the way, do you remember the subtitle of the first "Star Wars" movie (Episode IV)? "A New Hope," right? Isn't that what the world needs today?
  • Imperishable, enduring inheritance (4)
  • Shielded by God's power (5)
  • Rejoicing possible even in trials (6)
  • Our faith is more valuable than gold and will bring glory etc. (7)
  • Our souls are being saved (9)
  • The prophets were serving us! and we receive stuff that angels wish they could see (12)
  • More grace is coming to us (13)
  • Holiness is possible (16)
  • We were redeemed with something far more valuable than gold (18-19)
  • Jesus was revealed for our sake!
  • We've been born again (23)
See what I mean? How would it be if I could remember and think about those things all day long? What would my life be like? How would life be, for me and for those around me, if I were able to keep this list in mind as I talked with people and listened to them?

How would it be if you and I really lived like people born anew into a living hope? Would we not be truly distinctive creatures? People around us have a vain hope, or none; we have a sure hope, a living hope, an imperishable inheritance.

What do we do with all that?
  • Rejoice in sufferings (6),
  • prepare our minds for action (13),
  • be self-controlled (13),
  • fix our hope on coming grace (13),
  • avoid evil desires (14),
  • be holy (15),
  • live as strangers on earth (17),
  • love one another (22).
A difficult list -- impossible without help from God. But as we keep in mind the first list, the good news, and fix our hearts on that (i.e., we live as aliens here on earth) and ask God for help, the other things start to feel possible.

May the Lord help you and me to rejoice and to fix our hope on that salvation, and to live as we ought. And not envy the angels.

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