It was concerning this salvation that the prophets made careful search and investigation, and they prophesied about this gift which God would give you. 11 They tried to find out when the time would be and how it would come. This was the time to which Christ’s Spirit in them was pointing, in predicting the sufferings that Christ would have to endure and the glory that would follow. 12 God revealed to these prophets that their work was not for their own benefit, but for yours, as they spoke about those things which you have now heard from the messengers who announced the Good News by the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. These are things which even the angels would like to understand.
13 So then, have your minds ready for action. Keep alert and set your hope completely on the blessing which will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 Be obedient to God, and do not allow your lives to be shaped by those desires you had when you were still ignorant. 15 Instead, be holy in all that you do, just as God who called you is holy. 16 The scripture says, “Be holy because I am holy.”
17 You call him Father, when you pray to God, who judges all people by the same standard, according to what each one has done; so then, spend the rest of your lives here on earth in reverence for him. 18 For you know what was paid to set you free from the worthless manner of life handed down by your ancestors. It was not something that can be destroyed, such as silver or gold; 19 it was the costly sacrifice of Christ, who was like a lamb without defect or flaw. 20 He had been chosen by God before the creation of the world and was revealed in these last days for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from death and gave him glory; and so your faith and hope are fixed on God. – 1 Peter 1:11-21
As an aspiring photographer it is difficult not to get excited about new photo equipment. From the latest camera offerings to lenses and software, the opportunities and temptations are nearly endless. Imagine what I could do with a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom, or better yet, a 200-500mm f/4 lens! What about Luminar or Photomatix? Surely these would provide incredible improvements.
These words offer a strong corrective:
Keep alert and set your hope completely on the blessing which will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 Be obedient to God, and do not allow your lives to be shaped by those desires you had when you were still ignorant.”
Peter was surely not speaking explicitly about photo equipment. Photography was not invented for many centuries after these words were written. But any worldly yearning and hope is a candidate to replace the truer hope in the blessings to come when Jesus Christ is revealed. These words apply to photo equipment, fashion clothing, jewelry, exciting experiences, fame, fortune or even family.
These words warn us against letting our lives be shaped by good things that overshadow the Best Thing: our eternal hope in the life of the world to come. We must not let our love for our children turn us away from God, or lose our faith because we are tied to a certain way of worship (for example in a beautiful church building with many other Christians which is now taken from us because of the current COVID-19 pandemic). We dare not let these expectations – good or otherwise rest our hearts away from God.
I recall the impassioned words of a very young missionary. She was visiting me, and sharing her mission story and dreams. She spoke of an area of the world that was oblivious to the Gospel of Jesus. She said, “He is not getting the honor he deserves.”
The purpose of sharing the Gospel is not solely so that Jesus receives the honor he deserves. That will come one day. It is so that people may experience God’s mercy, love, and kindness. It is so that Jesus may rule our hearts graciously by faith. God’s desire is that all people be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4). His glory and honor will be to the praise of his grace (Ephesians 1:6).
God warns us not only of replacing faith in Jesus with hope for worldly blessings. He warns us not to let the hopes of this world shape our lives. In other words, when we live as though things other than God are more important than loving and serving him, we are shaping our lives in ways that do not honor God. Surely he deserves our honor.
Alas, all those photographic gizmos and software upgrades are a far-away dream. I don’t know if I’ll ever get that 200-500 f/4 constant aperture lens. But Jesus will receive the honor he deserves. I want to live like that…starting now.