Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,’ declares the Lord.
Dear friends, 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.
1 PETER 2:11–12
When I’m away, I quickly start to pine for home comforts – my own bed, cups of Twinings Strong English Breakfast tea (if you’ve not tried it before, it’s truly superior), and my family, to name just three examples. Yes, I’m a homebird. But even if you’re an adventurer, you probably relate to these feelings, too.
Since most of us haven’t experienced permanent displacement, these emotions – whilst trivial in comparison – provide a window into what the Israelites experienced as exiles in Babylon. Individually and collectively, they felt disconnected from the culture around them and were longing to return to their homeland.
And so, when prophets proclaimed that their days in Babylon were numbered, they lapped up this message of false hope. It was into this context that Jeremiah told them they’d be exiles for another 70 years – and that, far from being over, it was going to get worse. He commanded them to settle down, seek the peace and prosperity of those around them, and remain faithful and undistracted.
Centuries later, when writing to believers in Asia Minor, Peter described followers of Jesus as exiles. He urged them to ‘abstain from sinful desires’ and ‘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’.
Fast forward another 2000 years, God’s people are still exiles surrounded by voices that promise hope, satisfaction, and security – that’s why we sometimes have the uncomfortable feeling that we don’t belong.
Think back over the past week. Can you pinpoint moments where you’ve consciously had to choose not to listen to promises of false hope? Right now, it’s cold and dark. Perhaps, like me, you’re dreaming of longer, warmer days. And then you saw a holiday ad with cooling cocktails, stereotypically beach-ready bodies, and summer sunshine. Your mind quickly wondered to how much better your life would be if it was one non-stop holiday, if you could escape the hard realities of everyday life – escalating bills, long commutes, [fill in the blank for you] …
In that moment, you had to remember that wherever you are and whatever’s going on around you, you’re called to be a faithful disciple. To be distinctively Christlike in your actions and interactions. As you fight the falsehoods around you with the promises of Scripture and remain a faithful and undistracted witness, you’re fulfilling your God-given purpose, right where you are.
Marketing and Communications Lead, LICC
What promises of false hope are you surrounded by? This week, how can you remain faithful and undistracted in the midst of them? Join the conversation below.