Ordered Affections

Tim Brown

READ : 1 Peter 2:1-9

Rid yourselves, therefore . . . (v. 1 NRSV)

A very wise friend of mine often says, “If we are talking about real Christianity, we must get comfortable with the fact that there will be a 'no' somewhere in the sentence.” While we have been culturally conditioned from our cradles to yearn to be boundless and free, with no constraints holding us back whatsoever, there is no getting around the fact that following Jesus will require us to do precisely what Peter is asking us to do here: “Rid yourselves therefore . . .” And as he wrote this, doubtless these words of Jesus were ringing in his ears: “Let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

But alongside saying no to vices, the faithful Christian life also involves adding virtues to our lives. Peter ends his letter by naming humility, which acts like a flywheel turning over the engine of Christian virtues. But before that he names the necessary precondition, which is longing: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation” (v. 2 NRSV). The word for “long for” in Greek is a strong one: epipotheô. Peter is inviting us to remember the last time we heard a baby crying for its mother's milk. It is loud, intense, and unrelenting. We must long for the life of faith like a baby longs for a bottle! Didn't Jesus say, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”?

PRAYER

Lord, in your mercy, give us an appetite for you!