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What exactly should the Christian life look like? Can it be anything for anyone, or are there certain things that God expects for all Christians? David Marvin teaches through 1 Peter 1:23-2:10, explaining what the Christian life should look like and how we can live out and experience the purpose God has for us.
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Experiencing Our Purpose in Christ
The following blog post contains notes and application questions from our February 9, 2020 message, Experiencing Our Purpose in Christ.
What exactly should the Christian life look like? Can it be anything for anyone, or are there certain things that God expects for all Christians? David Marvin teaches through 1 Peter 1:23-2:10, explaining what the Christian life should look like and how we can live out and experience the purpose God has for us.
Suggested Scripture study: 1 Peter 1:23-2:10; 2 Timothy 2:15; Colossians 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 10:23-25; 1 Corinthians 12:26-27; Acts 1:8; Romans 10:14-15; 2 Timothy 4:5; Hosea 2:23
* Bible Reading Plan: Join the Journey
* Bible Reading Plan: App: Reading Plan
* Classes: Watermark Equipping
* Sermon: How to Not Waste Your Life
Good morning! Welcome, Watermark family. My name is David. I have the privilege of serving with our young adult ministry called The Porch, if we haven't met before. If you have a Bible, will you open up to 1 Peter, chapter 1? I'm going to start in verse 23. We will go well into chapter 2, so if you have not gotten some time in the Word this morning, you are about to get some of that time. Peter, starting in verse 23 of chapter 1, says:
"For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, 'All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.' And this is the word that was preached to you. Therefore…" In other words, now that you have been born again and believed.
"…rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
For in Scripture it says: 'See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone [speaking about Jesus] , and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.' Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, 'The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,' and, 'A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.'
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."
What I want to do for the next handful of minutes that we have together is walk through what Peter says should mark the Christian life after you believe. In other words, he goes through and says, "Now that you've been born again, there are certain things that should mark your life." I want to walk through what those things should look like.
Peter lays out a passage that is right on track with some of the most important values we, as a body, if you've been here for any length of time, have seen. He goes through, "After you've believed, you should be trained in truth," and he lays out what that should look like. "You should belong and be connected to his body, and you should be strong in a life of ministry." In other words, those 4 Bs that if you're a member here you've walked through and are a part of the core values we have that we think every believer should have.
Peter gives us a path that says, "Once you become a Christian, what does it look like to follow Jesus for the rest of your life? It should look like these things," and he's very specific in his application of those. So really, I want to trace through a very Watermark-esque passage and apply it to our lives.
Another way of saying this is not just what your life, Christian, should look like for the rest of your days, but Peter gives us an indication that if your life is going to have purpose… At the end of your days, when your tombstone is written, when your time comes or my time comes, if it is going to be a life that by God's definition was filled with purpose, it's going to include these things.
No matter what your story is or how successful your life or your job is or whatever car you drive and house you live in and whatever the world says, if your life at the end of your days does not include these things, you have wasted your life. If your life currently does not include these things, you are wasting your life. The God who's there does not want that for you and wants you to experience all the potential and purpose he created you for and, at a soul level, whether you realize it or not, you so desire.
So, I want to walk through those really specific things where he talks about what it looks like to be trained in truth or to grow up in your faith, what it looks like to belong to his body, and then how God chose you for the purpose of being strong in ministry or of sharing a particular message. So, I'm going to walk through a little more slowly the verses we just read, starting in chapter 2. I'll read them again.
"Therefore, rid yourselves…" Your translation may say lay aside. "…of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind." So, get rid of certain things in your life, and then: "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk…" Your translation may also include which is the word of God. "…so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."
Peter says, "If you're going to experience your purpose in life, the first thing that is going to be involved is you growing up in Christ." The Christian life is not stagnant, where you trust in Jesus at an early age and, for the rest of your days, that's the extent to which you know God. At the end of 2020, I should know God and his Word more deeply than I currently do today. If not, I'm not experiencing my purpose.
If you are not growing in your faith and if it is just something that you kind of check the box once a week, you are not experiencing part of the purpose for which God has created you, which is to know him, to more deeply know his Word, and to grow up in your faith. Peter says that happens in two ways: certain things you get rid of and certain things you consume. He says, "Hey, you need to get rid of…" Then he lists out a list of certain parts of that: all malice, all deceit, all hypocrisy and envy. Lay all of it aside.
He uses an ongoing verb there, which is basically like, "Hey, this is a continual project." Anytime part of me finds anything that is full of deceit or tempted to lie or any envy that pops up in my life, I'm to reject it and confess it and move it aside. The reason it's ongoing is because I may think I have gotten rid of all slander or envy in my life today, but then it's going to show up tomorrow. Peter says whenever that pops up in your head, you reject it, you confess it, you do not let that be present in your life.
Then there are some things you and I are to consume, he says, if we are going to grow up in Christ, and that is the Word of God. He essentially says it is not guaranteed that you're going to grow up in your faith. The guarantee you have of growing older is not the same guarantee you're going to have of growing up in your faith. Do you know what I mean by that? Here's something I can tell you. I can predict your future. At the end of 2020, you will be a year older than whatever you are today.
You're going to have more wrinkles, less hair, maybe hair increasing in places you wish it wasn't. You're going to be an older person. It is a virtual guarantee that you're going to grow older. It is not a guarantee, without you being intentional, Peter says, that you're going to grow in your faith. The way he says you and I do that is by having not just the intentionality toward the Word of God but the intensity of studying and consuming and being marked by knowing God's Word.
He uses an illustration that's such a great one of a newborn child. That same intensity a newborn has toward getting milk should mark the life of a Christian, and if it does, you are guaranteed that you are not just going to grow older; you're going to grow up in your faith. Why do I say "intensity," or what does that mean? If you're a parent, do you remember that moment…? This was kind of new when we started having kids.
You would think the feeding process for new kids would be a very simple process. You just kind of throw them on there, let them go to town, and there they go. But it's not, and if you've had kids, you know what I'm talking about. You have to learn that whole system, how that works, and they have to get it down. When they don't, when they can't get access to that milk, what happens? They go ballistic, because they are hungry. They want that milk.
In the same way, Peter says, that intensity of desiring the Word of God should mark the life of a Christian. I love his explanation for why. He says it in verse 3: because you, as a Christian, have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. If you're a follower of Jesus, you have stepped in and experienced, "God's way is better than my old ways. God's way and will as it relates to how I should live my life, what his Word says about how I should handle my marriage, conflict, money, work… It's just a better way. I found something superior, and it has begun to change my appetite."
That's his explanation for why you would crave it with that intensity. You found something superior. It's like this. When I was growing up, in my house, as it related to what we ate on a very consistent basis, it would be bologna sandwiches. I don't know if people still do this. It was normal for us then. I didn't know any different. You would come over to my house. We didn't do PB&J. We didn't do ham or turkey…none of that.
If you came over… "Hey, what are we eating for lunch?" "Of course. We're eating bologna sandwiches. You can either have ketchup bologna or mayonnaise bologna sandwiches." As a kid, you're like, "This is amazing." I'm pulling that little red ring off of there. I'm stacking four. It's a great day if I can get that. Every now and then, somebody would be like, "Oh man, I'm not eating that." It was like, "All right. Great. I'll take yours." It was like, "Dude, does it get any better than this?"
Then one day, I was introduced to what some people call actual meat, things like turkey and roast beef and ham. You're like, "Oh my gosh! What have I been eating my entire life? This is so much better. Bologna is disgusting," and it begins to change your appetite. To this day, truly, I can't even eat… The smell of bologna makes me sick, because I interacted with something that was superior and better and it began to change the appetite I had toward it.
That is how Peter says the Christian life works. The more you walk with God, the more you live according to his Word, you experience something that's superior, and it grows your desire to know and to do so more and more. Not always overnight, in a moment, just like in that illustration with sandwich meat, but increasingly, the appetite in your heart and life begins to change. You say, "I found a better way, and it's living according to what God says."
Peter says that is why you should intensely consume the Word of God in your life. Here's what I know. The degree to which you are going to experience your purpose and grow is in your hands this year as it relates to your plan for growing your faith, for growing your knowledge of the Word of God. Individually, what is your plan for 2020? Not your community's plan or your wife's plan. What is your plan? How are you going to study God's Word this year?
The Scripture hits over and over and over that the message and the words of God should dwell richly in your life and in your heart. Growing old is guaranteed for you. Growing up is not. What is your plan on studying? In 2 Timothy 2:15, it says you and I should do our best to present ourselves to God as one approved, as a worker who does not need to be ashamed, who correctly handles the word of truth.
Colossians 3:16 says, "Let the message of Christ…" You could insert Scripture. "…dwell among you richly…" It's the Greek word plousios, which means excessively. It's overflowing. "…as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit…" Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
The Scripture hammers that you and I should be consistently spending time in God's Word, in studying it, in knowing it, in growing in that. What is your plan for 2020? I want to do whatever I can to remove every excuse you may have walked into this room with. "I don't have time. I'm not really sure I know where to start." I'm going to give you some handholds.
If you do not have a plan this year, I can tell you, you're not going to grow more in your faith this year. You're not going to grow more in your knowledge of God this year, because you're just going to come weekly and get fed one time in a sermon. Just like you wouldn't sustain your life by getting fed food one time a week and then waiting until next week, so you will not sustain and grow your faith if you…you…are not consistently deciding, "I'm going to spend time in God's Word."
What is your plan? If you don't have one, you can go to jointhejourney.com and join thousands of us here who are walking through the Scripture together. Every single day, it'll send you an email with what you can read that day and a devotional that's a part of it. If you are in the place where you're like, "I want to go through the entire Bible this year," you should download an app called ReadingPlan. It's a little red app. It'll give you a lot of options. Several of us on staff here are walking through that. That's another option.
If you're like, "I want to learn my Bible" or "I want to learn specific stuff," there are a number of equipping opportunities. We are doing everything we can to help you grow up in your faith and be trained in truth. Go to watermark.org/equipping. There are amazing opportunities. We have equipping classes online. If you're listening from home right now… Because I know some of you guys are streaming. I know you, and we can see you…all of us. Wherever you are, you can go online with your Community Group or you individually.
Whatever excuse you have…if you're in a season and you have little ones and you're just treading water trying to make it…it has never been easier to consume God's Word. Download an audible version of the Scripture. What is your plan to grow this year? If you don't have one…listen to me…you're not going to grow. The God who's there says, "You're not going to experience your purpose," and Peter says, "You've tasted the God who's good. Are you going to consume the things that lead to your growth or not?"
There's a class starting this week on the life of Paul, if you're interested in finding out more about that. There's Summit men's Bible study coming up, women's Bible study that's ongoing, a lot of equipping opportunities for you to learn your Bible. What is going to be the opportunity you take advantage of or the plan you are going to follow?
Peter says it doesn't just involve growing up in your faith to experience your purpose. There's something else. Verse 4: "As you come to him [Jesus] , the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: 'See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone…'"
That is the stone the entire building rests on. Peter is talking about Jesus, saying how God is building this house, and the entire building that he's creating rests on the cornerstone, the foundation, of Jesus. "…and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." There's so much stuff in this passage that I wish we had more time to go through, but I want to highlight something Peter clearly says.
When you became a Christian, you and your life were placed in connection with other stones. He uses this metaphor. It's like you're this living stone. There's Jesus. He's the cornerstone. Everything else rests on him. God is building this house together, where all of us, as the body of Christ, are members of one another and connected to one another, and we're each of these stones that come together and are built up together in relationship.
The second idea I want to highlight from this text is that you would be built up together on Christ. Christianity and following Jesus is a team sport. You can't do it alone. Peter says you're to be in connection. You're like a bunch of stones God is putting together to build this house. I work with young adults a lot, and there's a phrase I hear and have heard a lot of times over the years, and I always think, "Man, this is such a dumb phrase. I would never say that phrase again."
If it's a phrase you say, I would say, "I would never say that phrase again." It's this: "Yeah, dude, I love Jesus; I just don't like the church. I love Jesus; I'm just not big on church." Why do I say that's a dumb statement? The Bible says the church is the bride of Christ. Think about that. When you say, "Hey, I love Jesus; I just don't like his bride, the church," think about what you're saying.
Is there a husband in the room that if somebody came up and was like, "Yeah, I love you, Carl; I'm just not a big fan of your wife Allison…" If he responded with, "Yeah, man, I totally agree; she's totally lame," you would not go, "I bet they have a really healthy marriage right there. That's somebody to follow as they follow Christ." You'd go, "Man, that's total dysfunction."
Do you think that when someone says, "Jesus, I love you; I just don't like your bride," whom it says in Ephesians, chapter 5, Jesus loved so much he bought with his own blood, that it's anything other than an affront and an insult to God? It is impossible to say, "Man, I love Jesus; I just don't love his church," because Jesus says, "If you love me, you're going to love what I love, and I love my bride, despite all of its imperfections."
If you are isolated or you don't have connection to a church, if you are not a member of a church, let me be abundantly clear. Some of you guys are here just for this one weekend, and this may be the only time you ever get to hear or I get to speak, because you're in from out of town or there's something going on.
If you are a Christian and you are not a member of a church, you are living in direct disobedience to the Word of God. I don't know how to say it any more clearly. You are being directly disobedient to the Word of God, and you are not going to experience your purpose, and you're not going to experience living out all of the potential ways God could use you.
Peter uses such a brilliant illustration. He basically says, "You're like these stones that are meant to be connected together." I don't know if you know what this is. This is what's called Granbury stone. It's the same stone that's all around us in this building right now. Thousands of them are right on the outside. You put these thousands of stones together, and they can create an amazing facility and environment that can allow you to worship God, come together as a people, allow you to do all types of ministry, and just the number of things that take place in this room.
It keeps us warm from the outside, protects you from the elements of rain coming in here. In other words, when you put thousands of these together, it's amazing what they can accomplish, but in and of itself, what's interesting is, all alone, there's not really a ton this thing can do. Its potential is directly related to how connected it is to other stones like it.
Literally, this thing can't keep you warm. It's not going to protect you and create a worship environment where you can sing around. It's just a big paperweight. You may not know this. The resources God has entrusted in this amazing facility we all get to be a part of here were so well done and constructed that people all the time will fly in just to see the facility and the building here and just see, when you put all of these stones together, what God can create.
Do you know what I've never seen? This stone has been here for a while. I've never, ever met the person who is like, "Yeah, I flew in from out of town. I just wanted to see that one stone. I heard it was there. Oh my goodness! There it is! This is amazing. Someone take my picture." It has never happened, because in and of itself, it doesn't fulfill its potential, its ability to live out its purpose, all of which are functionally worthless.
Peter says, as a Christian, if you are not connected to other Christians in a small group, a Community Group, if you're not using your gifts in serving inside of the body of Christ, you're like that stone, and all that you could do, the amazing things the other stones connected to one another are a part of, you're missing out on. The God who's there doesn't want that for you. Listen to me. You have an Enemy who does not want you to have a purpose-filled life. He wants you to waste your life. He wants you to live in isolation.
He wants you to discount every single thing I'm saying right now, where you're like, "This is why we can't really get involved. I'm just here for a temporary amount of time, and I shouldn't do it." Everything that is flooding your mind as an excuse of why it doesn't apply to you is a lie, and God who's there loves you. He doesn't want you to aimlessly, purposelessly, walk through life and be a paperweight versus all that you could be, but the choice is going to be yours. Are you going to take that step of getting connected?
In the Scriptures it hammers this. There are so many different places where it says you and I are to be a part of a church, to meet regularly. In Hebrews 10:23-25 it says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together…" The Bible says you should be in relationships with other Christians where you continually are gathering together. "…as some are in the habit of doing…" He says, "Don't be like those." "…but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
It says in 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, all of us are members of the body of Christ. "Now you are the body of Christ, and individually you make up members of it." He literally says in that chapter it's like you're each a part of the body. You're like a hand, a foot, an eye, and the hand can't say to the eye or to the rest of the body, "I don't have any need for you." Paul over and over hammers that would be crazy, yet so many Christians do that exact thing. "Hey, I can just keep this between me and Jesus and not be connected to his body."
It also says you should be underneath the authority of elders. In Hebrews 13:17 it says, "Have confidence in your leaders [elders] and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account." They're going to give an account for your soul before God. "Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden…"
Are you built up together currently with other believers in your life? Are you connected to a church? If not, today is your day to take that next step, to go through membership here. If this is not the home church for you, we would be so excited about recommending some other ones, though I am unashamedly biased. Welcome home. Peter says if you don't, you're not going to experience or fulfill your potential and your purpose.
Then he finishes in verse 9 and says, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession…" He chose you for a reason, though. ** "…that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."**
The final idea we see from this text is that if you're going to live out your purpose, it involves sharing the message of Christ. So, it involves growing up in Christ, being built together on Christ, and sharing the message of Christ. Very similar to the three Bs that come after you believe: that it involves being trained in truth, belonging to his body, and being strong in a life of ministry.
Peter says part of the reason God has chosen you is that you would open up your mouth and share the message of Jesus with coworkers around you, with people who live in your apartment complex, with the neighbors who are around you, with family members at the dinner table, with those who intersect your path. It's part of the purpose for which God has you on this planet. It involves sharing the message of Jesus.
I know, having done this for a while, that as it relates to sharing your faith, across the room that creates a number of different responses and a lot of anxiety and a lot of uncertainty and a lot of pushback, so I want to walk through some of those different aspects of pushback. People will say, "Man, I know I'm supposed to share my faith. I'm just not perfect. I don't have it all together. I feel like if I do that they're going to be like, 'Oh man, you're so judgmental. Why are you telling me all about your faith? Your life is not perfect.'"
I just want to give you a better way to think about that. You're not perfect. That's the point! You know that, right? That's why we have a Savior: because we didn't need second chances; we needed someone to save us. So anytime you're like, "Oh man, I'm just not perfect" or they're like, "Well, your life is not perfect…"
"Yeah, I know. That's the point, [your sister or mom, whoever it is]. That's why I've trusted in Jesus: because of all of my imperfections he paid for on the cross. I've accepted his forgiveness. He covered all of it. I know I'm not perfect. That's the point of Christianity." That's not a problem for sharing your faith; that's the point of why we need a Savior.
Another consistent one (and I have deep sympathies for this) is around introversion. Like, "Man, I'm introverted. I don't have the gift of evangelism." I have deep sympathies because I'm married to an introverted person, but as I've studied the Bible, I have not ever come across anything it says about introversion. It's really interesting. Maybe I'm missing some verse out there, and you can send it in to me.
It's as though God says, regardless of our personality and wiring, we should be people who share and declare the praises of the God who called us out of darkness and into his light. Regardless of wiring, we should be looking for opportunities to share that message with people around us. Think about it. How crazy is that idea? If it's true the Bible says part of the purpose you are breathing and on this planet is for you to declare the praises of the God who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light… "You are the light of the world," Jesus would say.
If part of the reason God has you is to share that message, how crazy and tragic would it be if we, as a body, accepted, "You know, because you're introverted, you shouldn't live out your purpose. Yeah, you could have a purpose-filled life, but you should just be purposeless because you're introverted, and that makes sense." What a tragedy would that be.
Probably one of the pushbacks I get most is we don't always know how to get into those conversations. Like, "I want to share my faith. I just don't know how to do it. How do I even get into the conversation? I don't want to be that guy who's awkwardly Jesus-juking all the time by the water cooler, like, 'Man, this coffee is hot. Do you know what else is hot? Hell. Have you ever been told about Jesus Christ or learned…?' I don't want to be that guy, so is there a way to not do that?" Yes.
I'm going to give you five words that will help you enter into that conversation. It's a question you've probably heard many times from this stage. It's a question that has created a culture of allowing many of you, thousands of you, to engage with your neighbor. It's this question right here: "Do you have a faith?"
You're sitting there, hanging out with a waitress, getting your food. "Hey, can I ask you a question? Do you have a faith?" You're discussing food over Thanksgiving meal with that extended cousin in from out of town, asking them the question, "Do you have a faith? Do you have a belief?" You'll likely get this response every time: "Do I have a what? Do I have a face? Of course I have a face. It's right here."
"No, not a face. Do you have a faith, a belief, a religious system? What do you believe?" Then you're into the conversation, and they'll respond with, "Oh, I don't know. I was raised Catholic." Whatever they say next, now you know, and you can respond with, "Man, that's great. Can I tell you what I believe? I believe God has me here right now so I can share that he hasn't forgotten you, he loves you, he knows your name.
He loves you so much he sent his Son into the world to die for everything wrong you've ever done, everything wrong in your future you're ever going to do. He died on the cross. His name is Jesus, and he paid for everything wrong in your life and everything jacked up in my life. He was buried, and he rose from the grave. He reset the calendar and transformed the world around us, and he's transforming my world. I think he wants you to know him. In fact, I know he does, and he loves you." And you're into the conversation.
Why I say this has so transformed is it has so marked the lives of many of you that people on the outside almost associate this with this place. Why do I say that? I was getting my hair cut recently at Great Clips, which feels like pretty generous marketing on their part, because the great is like a 50/50 shot every time I go in there. So, I'm getting a cut. I'm playing the odds. I'm rolling the dice. I'm sitting there, and I'm talking. Her name is Shannon.
We're into the conversation. We're just talking. I'm like, "Hey, Shannon, let me ask you a question. Do you have a faith?" She was like, "I do have a faith. I was raised…" Very quickly, she kind of cut me off. She was like, "I was raised Catholic," and she said, "But let me ask you a question. Do you go to Watermark?" I was like, "I do go to Watermark." She said, "I knew it! People from Watermark are always coming in here talking to me about Jesus, telling me about how much God loves me and telling me I need to come be a part of that place."
I said, "Do you know why they do that, Shannon? Because they believe that God loves you so much he wants you to know him and experience life. He's not angry at you." I was able to walk through and share the gospel imperfectly with her. Many of you are living that out and sharing your faith and inviting other people to come know the God who, from the moment those other people started breathing, has wanted them to know him and walk with him. Others of you are not, and you're not experiencing your purpose.
The Bible hammers this home. You and I are to be witnesses on Jesus' behalf. Acts 1:8, Jesus speaking: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Romans 10:14-15 says:
"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'"
Second Timothy 4:5 says, "But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." Part of the purpose for which God has you here is that you have to open your mouth and share about the message of Jesus.
When I moved here to Dallas a little over a decade ago and came to work at Watermark, I got to live in the backhouse of a family that was here. It was an amazing family. I didn't know them before I moved here, but they welcomed me into their life and just were incredible. The home situation… I didn't know what I was walking into. I drove from College Station up to Dallas and came up here and had seen where I was going to live, and then I met the family.
It was like I pulled up to a neighborhood… I had never been to a neighborhood like this before. It was like that moment in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where you pull up with Uncle Phil and you're like, "Can you be my new dad?" It was just amazing. Our neighbors were Dirk Nowitzki and Ross Perot. Like, "Where am I right now? This is insane."
I'm talking one day with the son about the craziness of the homes around us, and he basically was like, "Dude, those don't compare at all to the house two doors down that's over here," and he begins to lay out some of the stuff. This house is like 70,000 square feet and just this massive house. It had an indoor car wash, a 16-car garage, just crazy stuff that was part of it. He was like, "Do you want to see it?"
We walk down behind the property line to go see it. We get to their property line. He points, and I look out, expecting to see this massive house. There's nothing there. It took years to build this incredibly huge house, the largest home in Dallas at that time. Three weeks before anybody moved in, they were putting stain on the floors. These giant windows acted like a magnifying glass, and the entire thing went up in smoke. It was the largest insurance claim in history at that time. It was a complete tragedy.
As amazing as it is to talk like, "Wow, that's so cool! It had multiple pools and a 16-car garage and billiard tables," and all this different stuff, a house is only worth anything to the degree that it fulfills its purpose, which is people living there. It was a complete loss, complete tragedy. What is even more of a tragedy is how many Christians never experience and live out their purpose. Just like a house is only experiencing its value or purpose in the degree to which it has people living there, how many Christians live their entire lives…
They trust in Jesus. They don't grow in their faith. They don't do so with other believers around them. They never get connected to a body, and they never talk about Jesus or share the message of Christ. That is an even greater tragedy, because you can get another house; you don't get another you. You don't get another set of your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, or any other days of your life. How are you going to spend them? The God who's there wants you to experience purpose in this life.
I read verse 10, and I want to read it one more time, because it's a really interesting verse. I'm going to close with this. He says, "Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." What's interesting about this verse is it's almost a direct quote or reference to Hosea 2:23. I'll tell you a little bit about the story of Hosea. It's an interesting thing that Peter would say, "You know what? It feels like right here, this is what I should insert."
The book of Hosea is a story that clearly celebrates and showcases the greatness of God despite the imperfections of people. Why do I say that? Hosea was a prophet who lived in the 700s. He was a prophet to the nation of Israel. You're like, "What's a prophet?" Someone in the Old Testament to whom God showed up and said, "I'm going to speak to the nation through you." You would think, "That feels like anybody could just claim that."
Well, if what you said was going to happen didn't happen, if you claimed to speak for God, then they killed you. So it wasn't something where a lot of people were like, "Yeah, I'd love to do that. Hey, guys, the weather tomorrow is going to be…" Because if it didn't happen, you'd die. God shows up. "Hosea, I'm going to speak through you. You're going to be the microphone I'm going to use to speak to the people. Not only that; you're going to be an illustration that I want to showcase of my love for the people. So I have an assignment."
He says, "Hosea, here's what I want you to do. I want you to go marry a prostitute. I already have her picked out. It's going to be a picture of my love, because she's going to cheat on you over and over and over again, and that's going to be a picture of how I love the people of God and they cheat on me over and over and over again."
It says in Hosea, chapter 1, verse 2, "When the Lord first spoke to Hosea, he said, 'Go, and take for yourself a wife of whoredom, and you're going to have children of whoredom…'" As in, they're not your kids. "…for the land commits great whoredom against me." Hosea goes and marries her. Things are going fine at some level, and then shortly after that, she comes home and is pregnant, but it's not his baby. She'd been sleeping around and cheated on her husband. She's pregnant with another man's child.
God says, "I want you to name the child Lo-Ruhamah (Not Received Mercy)." Sounds familiar. Then a little time goes by raising this child, and Gomer doesn't stop. She keeps cheating on her husband. She sleeps around, and eventually she gets pregnant again with another man's child. She comes home, and as heartbreaking as that must be for Hosea, she has the child, and God says, "I want you to name him Lo-Ammi (Not My People)."
Eventually, it gets so bad (she continues to sleep around) she becomes the property of another man, we're told. Hosea, as heartbroken as he is… It's almost like he's tempted to give up this relationship. God comes and says in Hosea 3:1, "Go again, Hosea. Love a woman who is loved by another lover and is committing adultery now, just like the love of the Lord for the people of Israel."
Hosea goes, and he has to buy his wife back. He shows up, and he's like, "That's my wife!" He's like, "I don't care what she costs." He doesn't have enough money. He goes and gets every shekel he has and some other things from his house. He's like, "Whatever the price, I'll pay it. That's my wife!" The picture in the entire thing is this amazing picture where you and I are Gomer, like the nation of Israel was Gomer.
Despite all of the ways we do not run toward God and we run from him, he never stops, he never breaks his covenant, and his love pursues and goes after the people of Israel. In a very similar way, the day was promised in the book of Hosea where God would come and say, "Hey, whatever the price is, I will pay it, even if it's the life of my Son." This amazing showcase of his love.
In the book, there's also a promise in Hosea 2:23 where God says, "There will come a day where I will say to 'Not my people,' 'You are my people,' and I will say to those who have not received mercy, 'You are going to receive mercy,' because I'm a God who never stops loving, who never stops chasing, who pursues his people out of that amazing love."
Peter, 700 years later, says, "This verse fits perfectly right here, because that's what we do as Christians. We go showcase and tell not how great we are but how great is the love of the God who pursues his people despite all their brokenness and runs after them." He says, "This fits perfectly," as though this prophecy is fulfilled right here or is at least a connection to what God has done in you and me.
Now we go tell the world not how they can clean themselves up to have a relationship with God but how God has chased them despite all of the messed-up sin and brokenness in their lives and wants them to know him, and we proclaim about the God who called us out of darkness into his light, is calling the darkness out of us through his light, and we do it locked arms with other people as we grow in the knowledge of him.
Listen to me very closely. If you are not doing that, you are not experiencing your purpose, and at the end of your life, no matter how successful you are according to the world's accomplishments, you will have wasted your life. But you don't have to, and I don't have to, but if I'm not going to, it's going to involve growing in my faith, being connected to the body, and being strong by speaking up and sharing the message of Christ. Let me pray.
Father, thank you. The picture of Hosea pales in comparison to you and the love you've shown to us and displayed toward us. I pray for anyone in this room who thinks their sin has disqualified them from having a relationship with you. That is the qualification to have a relationship with you: an awareness that I'm a sinner, and that leads me to accept and receive the free gift of eternal life. Today, God, would your love and Spirit do what only you can do, which is allow that imperishable seed to be planted and grow?
I pray for the rest of us, God, who do know you and have put our faith in you. Would you help us to live lives that are continually growing in a world full of distractions? Would we have others around us who know you and walk with you, would we be built up together as the body of Christ, and would we share the message? Give us courage to open our mouths and talk about the greatness of our God and, in doing so, experience our purpose. We love you and worship you in song, amen.