Have you ever written a letter to a close friend? What are the things you want for your friend?
[Take responses from the congregation.]
Peter is writing to Christians in what is now Turkey, who are starting to experience how hard it is to be Christian. Peter has two prayers for them: That they would have a “sincere mind” — tested as genuine in the light of day — and that they would check everything against the Bible and Jesus life and teachings. They are living in a corrupt, sometimes hostile, society and Peter wants to give them hope.
Definition of Corrupt — having or showing a willingness to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain. Or as a verb, causing to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain.
Corrupt Society is founded on fear and greed.
1. There are people who scoff at what is good. They pooh pooh the truth as something for losers. Generosity is for chumps. Our self-focused society is trying to teach us that right and wrong, good and bad, don’t really exist—they’re social constructs. At the root, is a fear that we might be on the wrong path, or that someone else is right.
2. There are people who live to indulge their desires. They encourage us to only listen to the desires of our heart, as if getting what we want is how to be happy. Our consumerist society is trying to teach us that we should get what we want, whatever we want. At the root is a fear that we might miss out on something, that we might not have what someone else does.
3. There are people who aren’t concerned about the future. They aren’t interested in “some day.” They want it now. Our short-sighted society is trying to teach us that what matters is right in front of us. At the root is fear and greed—fear that we are creating a horrible future for our families and our world (but trying to preserve at least our family), fear that we can’t really change what needs to be changed (so what the heck…why not get some for myself?), and greed because we may as well get what we can while we can.
To restore a corrupt society:
1. To have a sincere mind—believing in things that have been tested in the light of day. Building character and living with integrity. The truth matters because living in the same reality is part of what binds us together. Working to improve our shared reality is what gives us purpose. Giving generously is what God does in creation, what God did in Jesus sacrificing Himself on the cross, and what God does in providing for our needs and leading us with the Holy Spirit.
2. Check everything against the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Willingness to sacrifice today, so that we can have a better tomorrow. If we know God will provide, then we are not anxious about being different from others.
3. God will keep God’s promises. We can rest secure and have peace in the midst of turmoil and trouble.
4. God wants everyone to have a chance at grace. For some, keep on into the arms of God. For others, turn around.
We could make it even simpler as Micah does: What does the Lord require of you?
To do justice
To love kindness
To walk humbly with our God
True Society, true community, is founded not on fear, but on trust. True society wants what works best for everyone. True society knows that if we can be humble and listen to each other, we can find solutions to our world’s problems. True society doesn’t just happen. It happens because people like you and me decide we want it to be different from what we have.
Today, you and I are writing a letter to our children and grandchildren. We write it with our lives, with what we make most important—with how we do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with our God. Will we write it in the ink of fear or selfishness? Then we will make our society more corrupt and our communities less livable. Or will we write it in trust and sacrifice? Then God will help us, and by God’s grace at work in us, society will find its way to a better, more livable day for all of us. If only we will turn around, and live in the light of the Lord who loves us…