The term ‘church’ (ekklesia) literally means, ‘the called out.’ It is a derivative of the word ‘kaleo’ which means a ‘calling out.’
I bring this to you attention because this is the word Peter uses in his 1st letter to us, the church.
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath CALLED YOU OUT of darkness into his marvellous light” (1Peter 2:9; emph mine seb).
Peter’s inspired letter says much about being separate, set apart, and different from the rest of the world. The comparison in this verse is light vs darkness.
This calling is to be heeded, but how? To understand what Christian must do to stay out of the darkness and be in the light can be seen in a study of chapter two.
Before we begin, it’s important to remember that the calling by God occurs through the word preached. “Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Thess 2:14). We become Christians by obeying the Gospel. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:3-4; 2Thess 2:8-9; 1Cor 15:1-4). After responding to this call, we can then continue to answer the call to walk in the light as He is in the light (cf. 1John 1:7).
With this background, we can now proceed to answer how to answer the call to come out of darkness.
Beginning at verse one of chapter two we read, “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings…” From this we see that we are to CAST OFF worldly behaviors. The Christian that is walking in the light has nothing to do with worldliness and sin. Paul wrote, “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints” (Eph 5:3). Paul also described the putting off as a putting to death these worldly attributes.
APPETITE for the word
Continuing on, Peter gives the source of knowing what is to be cast off and what our attitude should be toward it. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1Peter 2:2). The revealed word of God is the source book of information to teach us the difference between light and darkness, and that we need to develop an APPETITE for it as much as a newborn baby cries out for milk when it’s hungry. What a vivid description for us to see how vital the bread of life is to our growth.
From here, Peter describes who the called are. “To whom coming, as unto a LIVING STONE, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as LIVELY STONES, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1Pet 2:4-5, emph mine seb). This is important to understand for the Christian. Especially as we face persecution for being Christians. Peter will point this out in the remainder of this letter. We are the LIVING STONES of the Spiritual Temple of God.
Another thing to notice for those that walk in the light. We are to be LIGHT BEARERS to the dark world. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1Peter 2:9-12). Notice that we are to “shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out.” We can do this directly through preaching, and also through our actions in the world. Note verse 12, “they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” The Christian that is CALLED out of darkness shines forth the Light of Christ in their words and deeds (cf. Col 3:17).
This walking in the Light becomes an EXAMPLE for others to observe and to follow. Peter lists several areas in which the Christian can shine the Light, “which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1Peter 2:13-17)
Finally, those that are called out of darkness are to be DO GOODERS. People that continue to do good despite persecution. “For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God” (1Peter 2:18-25).
But this is not a do as I say, not as I do command. It is a “do as I did” command. Jesus Himself being the standard for those called to follow. “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1Peter 2:21-24, emph mine seb).
It’s interesting to note that chapter two is not the only place in this letter that talks about our being CALLED (see 1Pet 1:15; 3:9; 5:10). The last one is given just before the closing greetings.
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
This gives us comfort as we suffer persecution because we walk in the Light. It comforts because the suffering is only temporary, but glory is Eternal!
Spencer is an evangelist of the church of Christ in Borger Texas. He has been working with the congregation on Franklin and Juniper since 2014.