Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For
“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
11 let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Jerry was my high school buddy. He introduced me to the darkroom, photography, plain talk, and the Lutheran faith. God used him to point me to becoming a pastor. He had a profound impact in my life. Click here for a slightly fuller story of Jerry and his impact on me.
Jerry wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. At his interview to be admitted to Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, he said, “You can pretty much take the Old Testament and shove it out the window.” He may have been overstating his case, but that was his conviction at the time. He later came to appreciate the fullness of God’s revelation in the words of both the Old and New Testaments.
“The Old Testament is,” as one of my seminary professors said, “prelude to the New Testament. And the New Testament is a commentary on the Old Testament.” Luther said that the Old Testament is “the cradle of Christ.”
Some folks want to take away the Law of God and for that reason wish to ignore the Old Testament. Peter sees clearly how the teaching of Jesus flows from the Old Testament, and quotes here from Psalm 34:12-16. This passage raises the bar above an easy-believism that puts the grace of God at our disposal at our convenience without any true sense of our need for it. If we have no heart for repentance our faith will lay very shallow in our souls.
The implications of believing in Jesus go beyond belief in the grace of God and the forgiveness of sins. It starts there to be sure. Without that there is no hope at all. We who believe, however, are called to a life that reflects our faith. We have been saved from a life of self-service and hedonistic epicureanism. That is because God loves not only you and me, but he loves our neighbor as well. He commands that we love him first and love our neighbor as ourselves.
This is nothing new. It is as old as Adam and Eve. Yet it is a new as today’s dawn and the opportunities God will bring into our lives to seek peace and pursue it with our neighbor – the same way God sought peace and pursued us to be his own and live under Christ in his rule and reign, and serve him in eternal righteousness. (Cf. Luther’s explanation to the 2nd Article of the Apostle’s Creed)