For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,
“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.”And this is the word that was preached to you.
I love this passage at the end of I Peter 1. It points out the power of the word to change hearts, to regenerate us, to take us from our sinful selves held captive by conflicting desires and make us new, a child of God, pure with His righteousness.
And I love this passage because it describes clearly how Peter believed that the message they preached about Jesus wasn’t just a sharing of what they had seen or heard, but was actually giving people the seed that would generate the process of rebirth in them. Peter didn’t just consider the Old Testament writings as the powerful word of God, but the good news they related was the word of God as well.
The passage contains a selection from Isaiah 40. How can I discuss this in the context of that mighty chapter? There is so much good in it, beginning with the voice of the one crying in the wilderness, and ending with the famous verses about those who wait on the Lord rising up on wings of eagles.
But as far as the word goes, the chapter makes it plain that the good news of the Lord is to be broadcast with joy:
You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
Isaiah says it WILL be such wonderful news:
Yes, the Sovereign Lord is coming in power.
He will rule with a powerful arm.
See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.
The good news is that God will bring salvation with his mighty arm, the Lord Christ. As it says in Isaiah 9:7, Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
The good news is also that God will show himself to be an amazingly loving and caring God:
He will feed his flock like a shepherd.
He will carry the lambs in his arms,
holding them close to his heart.
He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.
We were vising church this past week, and we heard a sermon by Joel Dalrymple at the Jax Beach Church of Christ. He talked about Peter. He started by discussing how Peter was called through a miraculous catch of fish, and saw himself as unworthy before God. And then at the end of Peter’s life, he again saw himself as unworthy as he carried the guilt of his betrayal of Jesus. Yet both times, the message of Jesus to him was to not be afraid, and to join him in his work.
We all feel unworthy before God. I know with my physical and emotional challenges, I certainly do. Sometimes lately I don’t feel like myself, and I don’t feel like being giving to God or others. It is discouraging.
But it is good to remember that God’s message to me is not condemnation, but mercy and the giving of a purpose. There is good work for me to do. And the work for me to do is to go out and share the good news, the very good news that I am living out — that I am unworthy, but Jesus’ love for me far eclipses my shortcomings and presents me with the gift of having the very best thing to do. As Paul said in Ephesian 3:8, Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ.
So I am increasingly encouraged that I have the gospel, the powerful word, to share with others. May I put my hand in God’s and let Him lead me, trusting him completely, without the fear of my own shortcomings, and doing the work He gives me to do.