Learning our shapes...

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In our Pathway (small group), we are going through 1Peter. As noted before, the Holy Spirit connects our lives to the ministry of the prophets of old with those who announce this grace to us. Though R2K adherents would have us think otherwise, the announcement of grace has implications for every facet of our lives. Grace does more than alleviate our consciences...

It’s worthwhile to note that 1Peter takes us through every sphere of living: from childhood (chapters 1, 2), to wives and husbands (chapter 3), to sojourning citizens (chapter 3), to day-to-day conduct (chapters 1-5), and the governing of the life of the church (chapter 5).

Reading 1Peter follows sequence; raising us up from childhood to the full maturity of shepherding within the church. After all, a church officer must meet certain standards before he may hold office. If he hasn’t mastered chapters 1-4, he is not fit for office.

On the heels of connecting our lives to the Old Testament, Peter says ”therefore." Grace has implications.

Here’s how the NASB puts it:

13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ…

Reading the NASB’s rendering may leave readers with the impression that the life of the mind is one where we simply need to avoid laziness. Perhaps the problem is our failure to use our minds. Be sharp. The mind is important so keep sober and fix your hope on the return of Jesus.

Here’s how the KJV puts it:

13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ…

The KJV’s rendering is more accurate. The life of the mind is one which is steeped in sin and fraught with entanglements. If our minds simply needed a good workout, you’d think Paul would have stayed at the Areopagus. There’s “excess baggage." Weights. Encumbrances. Things need tucking in. That’s how we are to “prepare our minds." Not with a coffee buzz, but recognizing our minds are deceptive. They’re drunk on the cares of this world with a hope set on all the wrong things—usually more things to become entangled with and imbibe.

It is a call to the use of our minds, though. The antidote to the right use isn’t the disuse. When something gets in your eye, a mirror is a great help. The impaired eye is rendered useful with the aid of the mirror in identifying the problem.

The mirror we use for our minds involves applying the grace that has been revealed; and yes, Law included. This too is grace. But not “grace” as we like to think of it. Real grace calls us to “gird up." To become disentangled. To submit to being molded. We are told not to be conformed to our lusts (1 Peter 1:14), but to be to be shaped into the pattern of Christ (1 Peter 1:15). Conformity isn’t an option. We’ll be shaped one way or another.

It is no coincidence that 1Peter drives home imperishable things versus perishable things. We were redeemed by what is imperishable (1Peter 1:23), so we must measure everything against this. Fleeting passions are what drive the natural man. It’s also what makes children so insufferable at times. No sooner is something set before their eyes than they want it. When it’s removed, they’re reduced to tears. That doesn’t make our children “child-like," but simply ignorant and oriented to the moment. Thus I can’t think of a man of a more terminal ignorance than the one who thinks his intellect is his greatest asset. He’s unteachable, always measuring the contours of the Word against the shape of his natural skull.

As teachable children, we must submit everything—our minds included—to this grace mold. A man with an ungirded mind is in a drunken, inactive stupor looking for the next perishable thing to occupy himself. Girding our minds doesn’t merely clear our minds to think holy thoughts, but prepares our bodies for action.

My oldest daughter, Mia, is only four, but she constantly reminds me how eternity is set in her heart. I regularly compare her walk with my own. We’re supposed to be like children and whoever receives such a child receives Jesus (Matthew 18:4-5). What is it about children that God treasures? Humility. Shameless humility. This is what makes children so moldable. Any man that takes advantage of a child in this humility has a wretched judgment set before him.

Mia shows me her thoughts of eternity in different ways. One of those ways is by asking about death. It’s a permanence that can’t be comprehended because of its finality. It crystallizes the futility of the temporary. But there are things that are permanent and cannot blow away with the wind. If we conduct ourselves in hope for the revelation of the imperishable riches to be revealed, we will not be disappointed. Pilgrims can hope because they know they are dwelling in a temporary place. Advent has not come and gone. We have not arrived yet. There will be no lull or disappointment at the revelation of the God-Man and our receipt of immortal bodies. We’re still preparing for Advent.

Conduct yourselves in hope, molding your mind and conduct  to correspond to this imperishable hope.

Like obedient children.

Craig French is a former deacon and member at Christ the Word (PCA) in Toledo, OH. He and his wife Tai have four daughters.