Yes, the cost of real freedom – this should have been the title of the apostle Peter’s first letter. He is addressing Christians under persecution, both slaves and freemen. They felt alienated from the society they have been brought up in; they have chosen to follow Christ, and now are experiencing the full reality of that calling. His words speak loud and clear to our generation as well.
“Gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct.” 1 Peter 1:13-15
Like the early Christian community we are watching the degradation of our own society on many fronts: promiscuity, violence and gangs, deceit and deception in politics, unjust treatment of the weak and the unborn. We are entering into a time where deprivation of moral certitude is escalating faster and faster, and the voices of the majority are being silenced and threatened. St. Peter poses a challenge for us who claim a Crucified Lord; he points to our conduct – our behavior – and calls us to be different than the society we are a part of.
Does this mean we are to stand aside and do nothing? No.
Does this mean we are not to point out the errors we see in politics and in our local communities? Of course not.
We are, by duty, to speak the truth and to shine that light on the darkness that seems to be growing. The difference lies in how we do it. How is our conduct as we proclaim what is just, good, and true? Peter calls us “strangers and sojourners in exile” . We are foreigners to the ways in which the world operates, and we must have a different measure by which we act. Too often I read posts on twitter and various blogs that tinge the truth with irony or name-calling. I realize that this stems from the frustration of having no conduit for open dialogue by which to share our differences. And yet, we are called to “Maintain good conduct so that if they speak of you as evildoers, they may observe your good works and glorify God on the day of visitation”. 1 Peter 2:12
The day of Visitation. This is the hallmark of our true HOPE. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again! We are preparing for the day of the visitation, when Christ will come again in His glory and claim what is His. In the meantime, we are left to follow the example He gave us, which goes against many of our instincts of self-preservation. How many of us have tried to make our voices heard in the healthcare debate, for example, only to feel our voices fall on deaf ears? We feel frustrated and angry and sometimes find ourselves justifying our own harsh words because of the message we want to convey.
What is the message we want to convey? In all we do we must do so with love, so to proclaim and glorify God, and prepare souls for the day of his coming. How else is it that those who do not know Jesus will come to know and love Him? If our conduct is the same as the world, there is no choice on the day of Visitation. Let us speak of our call to freedom, yes, but it must be grounded in example set by the One who frees us all.