Our chapter in 1 Peter today is particularly challenging; Peter bluntly spells out that followers of Jesus have separate values from the rest of the world, their “citizenship” is different, their aims in life are different. They “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (2:9). In a spiritual sense they are “sojourners and exiles” (verse 11), rather than citizens of the country they live in with its focus on living without any thought of God and the Saviour He sent into the world.

True believers in the gospel must “keep (their) conduct among the Gentiles honourable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (verse 12). We long for that day when God is recognized and glorified through the return of His Son Jesus who, says Peter, is “the living stone” (verse 4), which is solid and secure, “a firm foundation” (2 Timothy 2:19).

This foundation, says Peter, is “rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious” (verse 4); “a cornerstone … and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame” (verse 6). Peter is quoting Isaiah 28:16 to emphasize that the eternal purpose of God was revealed, and could be known, by those of earlier generations who heeded His word through His prophets and could become “chosen and precious”. This is just as true for our generation.

A cornerstone is the key point in the foundation of a building. There is a “marvellous light” (verse 9) in the hearts of true believers – although they live as “sojourners and exiles” (verse 11) in today’s world, standing apart from the ungodliness and total lack of principle that surrounds them, looking for, and drinking “the pure spiritual milk that by it (they) may grow up into salvation” (verse 2). We need that spiritually nourishing milk every day – how many are suffering from spiritual malnutrition? Too many we fear; and the oil in their lamps is low. Is it time to check yours?