So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. 1 Pet. 1:13-14 (The Message)
If you have accepted responsibility for your spiritual fitness and established intentional strategies that have led you to a richer relationship with the Lord, the next question is “Where do I go from here?” After reaching a personal goal, physical or spiritual, the next difficult task is in maintaining the new behavior. How do you continue to do the “right thing”? The Apostle Peter’s message is both timely and fitting for believer’s who desire to maintain their spiritual fitness in spite of living in the 21st century.
This epistle was addressed to believers throughout Asia Minor (Modern Turkey). Hostility and suspicion were mounting against Christians. These believers’ presence was becoming an offense to the pagan world with their life-styles and talk of “another Kingdom”. The stage was being set for greater persecution and even martyrdom in the near future. Peter encourages these believers to maintain obedience to God and resist the temptation to return to their previous way of living (1 Pet. 1:13-14). This is still God’s directive to believers today.
As believers become more “spiritually fit”—conformed to the image of Christ—they will demonstrate behavior that puts them in harm’s way with the world, especially as they resist conformity to postmodern thinking (Rom. 12:1). They will be called “narrow–minded” and “bigoted” because believers in Christ look very different from the rest of the world. So how are believers, even those who are spiritually fit, expected to maintain their walk of faith?
Align their purpose with God. Believers are to walk in assurance that their life has changed and that they are following the path God has established for them from the foundations of the world (Ep. 2:10). There are many good things believers can do with their life, but the “best things” are those lived in humble submission to the will of God.
Walk in their identity in Christ. As joint heirs with Christ, believers share not only in His purpose, but they also share in His privilege and power. The believer’s spiritual fitness includes the ability to successfully resist old temptations and tendencies that were part of their “old nature” before becoming one with Christ (Col. 3:1-4).
Manage their expectations of the world. The Apostle Peter encouraged his readers to prepare their minds for action, discipline themselves, and set all their hope on the grace of Jesus Christ. Believers know that Jesus has overcome the world, God is still on His throne managing the events of the world including His Church, and our inheritance awaits us in eternity future.
Believers, whether living in the 1st or 21st century, are to live as “lights shining in the world among a crooked and perverse generation” (Phil. 2:15). Spiritually fit and ready to go, we move forward in newness of life (Rom. 6:4), “proclaiming the mighty acts of Him who called us out of the darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet.2:9).