9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:9-10
The sparkle of a diamond ring brings a lot of different feelings. If it is lying in a jewelry case, it might produce a longing for a different life. If it’s newly perched on your finger, it most likely brings wonder and joy. Wonder at the trajectory of your life and how everything has fallen into place. Joy at the humbling and amazing fact that you chose each other, and life will never be the same. If that diamond has been on your finger for a while, you understand more completely that being chosen means nothing will be the same, for better or worse. Diamonds draw us in with their light and their hope.
Chosen. In this passage, Peter emphasizes the fact that, as Christians, we are a chosen people. He talks about who we were before and who we are now. Once you were not…now you are. Once you had not…now you have. That is the continuing story of our relationship with Christ. Once. Now. Transformed by the presence of Christ from what was once darkness but is now light.
Like the hypnotic, sparkly light from a diamond, Christians are asked to live our lives in a way that attracts non-believers. Many who don’t yet know Jesus are longing for a different life, a life with meaning and value, a life that makes a difference in the world. They are searching for a way out of sin and guilt. They want to taste the taste of forgiveness. They want to feel the feeling of mercy. They want the story of “once…now” to be the story they can tell. Often, they don’t really believe it is a story that can be told.
How can we tell our stories to a world desperate for hope? Jesus is a great model for how we can begin the conversation. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus uses a question to get to the heart of a person. Here are a few questions asked by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew that might help us as we deepen a relationship with an unbelieving friend.
Why are you so afraid?
Have you understood all these things?
Why did you doubt?
Who do people say the son of man is?
What do you want me (Jesus) to do for you?
What do you think?
Questions take the focus off us. They teach us to be good listeners and to wait patiently for the Holy Spirit to show us just the right time to tell our own stories. They allow us the great privilege of seeing what is really going on inside a person. Our neighborhoods are full of stories of lonely, hurting people who are successful on the outside but empty on the inside. God wants them to have a story, and He graciously allows us to help them write it. Hope is attractive. We have the only hope that gives life.
The language of a diamond says, “Chosen. Once. Now.” May we declare the praises of Him who brought us—and who will bring our friends—out of darkness and into His marvelous light.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Christ chooses us to be a light reflecting Him in an unbelieving world. In what ways does your life look different but attractive to those who don’t yet believe?
- Jesus used questions as a way to get to know people and to get to the heart of their situations or needs. How can you use questions to discover more about a person whom God has put in your life? Think about ways you can improve your listening skills.
- People who don’t know Christ often think Christians portray themselves as perfect, without pain or weakness. How can you share some of your challenges and weaknesses with a non-believing friend in order to deepen a relationship and build trust?