But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…. (1 Peter 2:9)
We have all heard of coach potatoes—are you a pew potato? Without exercising our faith, we will be spiritually flabby. Paul said, “exercise yourself toward godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7b). It is time for a workout! Peter speaks of three areas needing attention to grow strong in faith.
WORSHIP BUILDS HEALTHY HEARTS (1 Pet.2:1-5). Peter is talking about the heart of our Christian experience—worship—and how our heart for God can beat strongly. You will never grow spiritually beyond the level of your experience with God. Physically, cardiovascular disease is a killer. Two keys to a healthy heart are diet and exercise. This is true spiritually. We are to feed upon the Word of God (v.2) and exercise our faith in the pursuit of God (v.4a). This is a good description of what worship is all about. Notice that WE HAVE A SANCTUARY (v.5) “living stones…being built up a spiritual house….” The church is not a building of bricks and mortar, but a living thing constructed of the individual members. WE ARE GOD’S SERVANTS (v.5) “a holy priesthood….” The Old Testament priests were set apart to minister to the Lord. In the New Testament, every believer is a priest who comes before God to worship. WE OFFER SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES (v.5) “to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God….” Jesus said the only acceptable worship is offered in spirit and truth.
WORK STRENGTHENS HELPING HANDS (1 Pet.2:9-18). Peter points out that because of who we are (v.9)—our position—it affects how we act (v.11-12)—our performance. A sedentary lifestyle will never build strength. There is no easy way to develop spiritual muscle. Growing strong as a Christian requires intense effort. We are chosen—set apart for God’s service (see Eph.2:8-10). When are you going to grow up and get to work? A mark of physical infancy is that you require constant care. Babies demand attention. They make many messes, but never clean them up! It was a happy day when my girls got old enough to wash the dishes and the boys grew strong enough to mow the grass! That meant they were growing up. How about you? Are you here to be served or to serve? Perhaps you aren’t an active member of a local church. Don’t you think it is time to enlist and get busy? It is unthinkable to me that someone could be content to look at the sacrifice of Jesus and not respond with grateful service to Him!
WITNESS DEVELOPS HEALING SPEECH (1:22-2:1, 6-9, 21-25). I don’t think I’ve ever been to the doctor that he didn’t say, “Open your mouth and stick out your tongue.” He shines a light in and looks around. You can tell a lot about a person’s health by looking in their mouth. How true that is spiritually! Some of us have mouths loaded with disease (2:1). Our words can hurt and our words can heal. The most important thing we can say is a good word about Jesus. People need to hear the Gospel—this is the seed of eternal life (1:23-25). Taking in the word of God is essential to spiritual growth, but unless we share it, we will get fat and not fit.
Worship, work, and witness are marks of spiritual health. Ready? Exercise!
Dennis Thurman has pastored churches in Western North Carolina for 36 years. Currently, he is Senior Pastor of Pole Creek Baptist Church where he has served for almost 20 years. Married to Marilyn for 40 years, they have 5 children and 11 grandchildren.
This article was originally posted on Dennis’ blog, Mountain Top Musings