When God’s people of Israel were in exile, learning what it meant to be God’s chosen people, God—through the prophet Isaiah, reminded them of their identity: See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isaiah 60:2-3 NIV). God’s original intent for his people was that they would be a light to the nations. An example of what it looks like to be a people ruled by God, rather than an earthly king. To be an example of the “good life” that’s available only when fully submitted to God.
In 1 Peter 2, God’s people again find themselves persecuted, not by Babylon as in Isaiah, but by the pagan society around them. Peter offers a similar message to those in the newly founded church – remember who you are. You are light in the darkness! Live your lives in a such a way that demonstrates who you truly are. I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
The answer to the un-ideal or corrupt culture around you is not to blend in, harshly judge, or even avoid. The answer is to be a light in the darkness. As followers of Jesus, we know we don’t belong in this world. Peter even describes us as “foreigners and exiles.” However, this doesn’t mean we avoid the world around us. Instead, we engage it with the love of Jesus Christ, living fully submitted to God in such a way that when others see our lives, they’ll want to know more. People are attracted to the light. This is the vision for God’s people in Isaiah 60 which Peter is now reminding us of.
The darker it is, the brighter the light can shine.
Questions for reflection:
- What challenges are you facing these days when it comes to living in the culture around you? Where are you tempted to “go along with the crowd” or “blend in”?
- What are some ways you can shine your light and demonstrate “good deeds” this week? What type of lifestyle would stop and make unbelievers take notice?