We are sojourners on a journey. It’s not that we are aimlessly wandering through this life searching for our destination, a place where we can rest our head. No, the Christian life is not one called to rest in our salvation, though in our salvation we do find rest. The Christian life is a commission to freely give as you have freely received. The salvation of Christ is not something we gather around us like a wealth of goods, hording our gifts for our own pleasure. Our salvation is an adoption into a new family – the family of God. As Peter tells us, we have an identity as the people of God – but we are more than just a people, we are the people of the God who spoke and the universe began to exist (1 Peter 2:9-10). As his people we are more than just associates of God, we are his children. Paul refers to our relationship with God as a legal adoption. We are now privileged to not only suggest ourselves as God’s people, but we may intimately refer to him as our paternal father, or more closely, “Daddy” (Romans 8:15).
Within this intimate relationship we are now members of a new family. We are no longer on our own in this vast universe of chaos and random chance. We are no longer in it for ourselves to be either mercilessly exterminated by natural selection or selfishly destroyed by human depravity. No, we are now protected beyond the limitations of earthly existence. We are now honored as children of God and as such we are written into an eternal adoption by which we call our God, Father. We have an eternal name. We have an eternal identity.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:9–12, ESV)
With our position, as God’s children, comes responsibility, as we now represent someone other than ourselves. We have a calling. We have a purpose. We carry the name of Christian on our chest. We are marked, and as such it is rightly expected of us to act in line with our family heritage. This is the encouragement of Peter. To act like the family you belong to. To put away malice, deceit, hatred, envy, and slander and to grow up as children into the salvation that has been prepared for us. We are being built like a spiritual house, brick by brick, layer by layer, as the Holy Spirit works within us. Shaping us and conforming us not to the shape of what we once thought we should be but into the shape of what God is, of who Christ is. Our spiritual sacrifice is not animals we kill on the alter of the temple, but rather our sacrifice is our desire we lay down for Christ in our hearts. Not my will be done, but thy will be done. This is our spiritual sacrifice.
Some may disagree with this submission of self. Some may feel that it is there prerogative to live their life as they see fit, according to their rules and standards, even as honorable or dishonorable as they may be. But this is the mark of a true child of God; that they have submitted to their heavenly father. Not out of resistance but out of joy knowing that he who created all things understands best how all things should be.
As children we look to our parents to instruct us and teach us how life works. What are the best ways to operate? How are we to conduct ourselves in public as well as in private? What are the proper manners and ethics we are to treat others with? And as parents we instruct our children out of love and the hope that they will mature to be well-balance, caring, loving, individuals whom others see and credit as such. This is how we bring glory to God as his children. Representations of who Christ is to others so that they desire to be in God’s family.