What’s An Exile to Do? Live in Confident Expectation

Posted by R. Fowler White

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet 1:13)

Therefore … The commands for the new life that we Christians should live always seem to begin with that word therefore. After summarizing what God has done for our good in the opening (1:1-2) and thanksgiving (1:3-12) sections of his first letter (aka his “Survival Manual for Exiles”), the Apostle Peter turns in the letter’s exhortation section (1:13-25) to tell us what God calls us to do for His glory. The order of indicative/imperative is particularly important here: it reminds us that God does not address His commands to us His elect exiles as those who are still in bondage to sin. No, He addresses us as former slaves now free for a new life, free to grow in holiness. By free, we don’t mean that we’re fully and finally freed from sin’s presence, but we are freed from sin’s penalty and power, free to live the new life to which Christ calls us. So now, as we take courage from our elect identity in Christ and give thanks for God’s saving work, Peter instructs us about how we exiles should live.

So, what’s an exile to do now? Live in confident expectation (1:13). Our salvation calls for—in fact, it brings about—a reset of our outlook. Peter says, set your hope fully …. Fasten your gaze entirely, fix your eyes completely, focus your energies totally, on your hope of the grace of resurrection life to come (1:3), of the eternal glory that will be yours (1 Pet 5:10). Don’t set your hope on anything that’s of this earth or of this world (like an election cycle). Don’t focus your energies on anything that’s temporary, on anything that dies, goes bad, or fades away. Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

But we ask Peter, how? How do we go about fastening our gaze, fixing our eyes, focusing our energies on our hope of our future resurrection life? Peter answers, by preparing your minds for action. Our translation blurs the image that Peter provides us. The Apostle refers to the fact that, in ancient times, men wore long robes and would tuck them into their belts if they wanted to move more freely and quickly. Peter may even be recalling what happened at the Passover. Remember how, once the blood of the lamb was applied, God’s people were to be ready to leave Egypt for Canaan (Exod 12:11). Get dressed and ready to take off. So, exiles, says Peter, get your minds ready for action. Don’t imagine that we’re just going to stroll or coast to the finish. Roll up your sleeves; tighten your belt. Get ready to roll, to exert yourself in a vigorous and sustained way. Live your life in confident expectation by preparing your minds for action.

But Peter mentions one more way to live in confident expectation: by being sober-minded, that is, by disciplining yourself, by getting your mind in gear. In other words, gear up and stay alert. The tests and trials peculiar to our exile can make us careless. So we need to concentrate. Don’t let your mind wander. Don’t zone out. Sure, take time to rest and worship, but don’t just veg out and “let life happen” to you. Don’t get distracted by leisure and recreation, personal peace and affluence, worldly reputation and power. Lock in on your life to come in that lasting city.

Noah, an exile who preached (2 Pet 2:5) while he built an ark to sail to a new world (Heb 11:7), was called to live in confident expectation. The OT church, exiles freed to march to a new land, was called to live in confident expectation. So it is with us. Resurrection life in our heavenly country awaits us. For now, we are exiles set free from this world, and we live in confident expectation of the world to come. And, oh, yes: Peter provides us more detail on what our life of confident expectation looks like. Keep reading in 1 Pet 1:14ff.

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