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Day 37: A People Belonging to God

The Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints

READ 

1 Peter 2:1–12

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” and,

“A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which 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.

MEDITATE

Note how this passage begins and ends with exhortations about holiness. When the Creed modifies the word “Church” with “holy,” it means this church is distinctive in character. When Peter tells us we are “aliens and strangers” in the world he doesn’t mean we need to be strange or alienate people. He means we are set apart. There is something about our character and presence that is wholesomely winsome. He urges us to grow up in our salvation, to press on to mature faith. Reflect a bit on this call to “crave pure spiritual milk.” What would that be? Why do we find ourselves in the position of approaching holiness more like taking medicine than craving pure milk? So often the people of God take a wrong turn when it comes to holiness, making it all about duty and discipline. True holiness is all about desire and delight. It is about tasting the goodness of God. What would it be like to “crave” the Spirit of God? How could that happen?

Peter is not talking about the holiness that comes from the Pharisaic model with its meticulous observance of legal codes. When he says holiness, he means Jesus, the cornerstone.

REFLECT

Saints cannot exist without a community, as they require, like all of us, nurturance by a people who, while often unfaithful, preserve the habits necessary to learn the story of God.

—From “The Gesture of a Truthful Story”
Stanley Hauerwas

ASK

Express your questions, doubts, curiosities, and conundrums.

AFFIRM

Write any fresh affirmation stirring in your heart and mind from today.

Now affirm the Apostles’ Creed aloud:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord . . .