1 Peter 2:12 “…Keeping your conduct among the Gentiles (the unbelievers) beautiful, so that when they speak against you as wrongdoers, they may see your beautiful deeds and glorify (praise) God on the day of visitation.”
What deed might you do now that would make your critics burst into heartfelt praise on the Day of Judgment?
Maybe you could turn the other cheek, forgiving your enemies—not because you had to but because you wanted to; you could Love them unconditionally from a pure heart?
Wouldn’t it be good news for them to discover that the one standing on the throne and shining like the sun, looked a bit like you? But how will we come to love like Jesus? It seems utterly absurd; It’s just not how life works on our planet . . . we say.
Whenever Scripture seems absurd, I find it helpful to take it more literally. And by “literally,” I don’t mean materialistically or according to our modern concepts of space and time but according to the author’s original intent.
1 Peter 2:1 “Having been undressed of all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and slander…”
When were we dressed in all lies, hypocrisy, envy, and slander? We dressed ourselves in all lies after we took knowledge from the tree of the knowledge of Good and evil to justify ourselves—it was our choice; we often call it “growing up.”
When were we undressed of all lies? We were severed from our body of flesh, the work of our frightened ego, at the tree in the garden, where we are crucified with Christ—that’s not our choice; it’s his; it looks like death, but it’s the death of death, the beginning of life. That’s Good News for you can only enter the Kingdom as a child.
1 Peter 2:2 “As newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual [literally: logical] milk that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is kind. As you come to him, a living stone…”
It’s here that modern readers check out. For what is a living stone? And for that matter, what is Life?
Recently I was watching a TV show titled Life on Our Planet. One thing killed another thing, and Morgan Freeman—like the voice of God—said, “Competition, both within and between species, has always driven evolution.” And I got angry. I’m not saying this as a pastor but as a man who has been trained in the sciences and believes that the Universe is 13.8 billion years old and simultaneously 6 days old depending upon your frame of reference: Competition does NOT drive evolution; Life drives evolution. Competition explains death NOT Life.
What is Life? It’s a profound mystery and at least these three things and a fourth.
#1) Life is a choice, a judgment, a decision to sacrifice autonomy for community. One molecule sacrifices its autonomy for community with another, making a third, and so on. One cell miraculously stops competing and starts cooperating, sacrificing identity and receiving a greater identity. One body part loses itself to find itself (A chicken leg is most a chicken leg when it’s attached to a chicken). One part literally bleeds into the next part and, losing its life, it finds it. Life is a decision to sacrifice yourself. And we have a word for that decision; it’s “Love.” “In this is Love, not that we loved God, but he loved us…” and sacrificed. “The life (the breath) is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement (at-one-ment) upon the altar,” says the Lord. God talks as if, in the temple, he is taking individual “lives” and making One Life. From outside the body of that temple, that would look like death, but from inside the temple, it would be life itself. Life is not competition but cooperation in freedom; life is Love.
#2) Life is an organizing principle. Life is the Logic of Love, not chaos but logos. There’s a logic to sacrifice itself and a logic that binds all the sacrifices together. But this logic cannot simply be imposed from the outside; it must also rise from the inside, which means that you’d have to drink it like milk, receive it as a child, or surrender to it like music. When the logic you can comprehend surrenders to the logic in the music that surrounds you, you begin to dance, and when everyone dances, the party takes on a life of its own. Sometimes if two individuals freely surrender to the Logic of Love, that sacrificial communion can reverse the flow of entropy and we call it a baby. If it’s not a free sacrifice, it’s called rape and leads to death. But of its free surrender in a covenant of unconditional love, we often refer to the process as romance.
#1) Life is Love, which is a communion of sacrifice in freedom.
#2) Life is the Logic of Love, which is revealed to us as romance.
#3) Life is a Consciousness . . . a Spirit.
Consciousness is freaky for it seems to be capable of choice, and super freaky for it seems to be more foundational than spacetime and it clearly matters more than matter. Your consciousness, your mind, can move matter. And the matter that it can move is called your body. I am very conscious of my own body of flesh, for I can only feel my own pain and pleasure. Well… on certain occasions I can actually feel another person’s pleasure as if we were one flesh. In my body, each part is conscious of the pleasure of the whole. Imagine if every person that ever existed was all one body bound together in a communion of freely offered self-sacrifice called Love. Then you would feel no pain and an immeasurable amount of pleasure. “As in Adam all die, so in Christ will all be made alive… he was made a life-giving Spirit.” Life is the Spirit of Love and Logic filling all things. Life is the Sacrifice of the fittest, the survival of all that fit, and the consciousness that all fit in the body of Jesus by whom all things are created and sustained.
1 Peter 2:4, “As you come to him a living stone…” A living stone is dust into which the Father has breathed the Spirit, the Breath, of Life. Life is not holding that Breath but breathing that Breath; it’s losing your soul and finding it in the Body of God: Father, Son, and Holy Breath.
1 Peter 2:5, “You, yourselves are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands (is encompassed) in Scripture, ‘Look, I am laying in Zion a stone… the foundation stone… the kaphale gonia, the head of the corner.”
Take that literally, for he takes you literally as his body and bride. And then, you will no longer be governed by the lusts of the flesh—to hold your breath, wrap yourself in fig leaves, and die. You will be governed, freely, from the throne in the Sanctuary of your own soul—to lust for communion; “In lust, I have lusted to eat this meal with you,” said the Logos of Love, just before he delivered up his Spirit.
The Tree of Life now grows in the middle of the garden in the Sanctuary of your soul. Its fruit is for the healing of the unbelievers; it is the righteousness of Christ, which clothes us from the inside out—it’s the free will of God on the throne in the living temple of our Lord.
When you willingly bleed for your enemies, you bleed the judgment of God on the Day of Visitation, such that your enemies may be conquered by the Romance of God, the Righteousness of Christ, and the Power of the Spirit.
In this message, I share a remarkable vision of a young man—my friend’s son—forgiving the man, who had just killed him, in a head-on collision. As he ascended to Christ, he reached for this man with his own bloodied hand. His “enemy” couldn’t see Jesus, but he could see his body broken and blood shed on the day of visitation; he could see Brad. And together they ascended.
When you forgive your enemies, you are the Judgment of Life at the edge of the Living Temple.
#4) Life is Beautiful; It’s the revelation that “everything is Good” and “It is finished.” Amen.