The Community Ransomed With Blood
(1 Peter 1:13-25)
The community of the church comes from being those who belong to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But we belong to this divine Community of love only one way – through ransom by blood. We don’t find our place in the divine Community simply through having teaching about the Trinity. Our problem is not ignorance but opposition, the suppression of the truth. And reconciliation through ransom, rather than re-education, is the only way ahead.
Jesus was offered “like a lamb without blemish or spot.” The ransom that Jesus effects was not by perishable things like gold or silver; it is not the same as paying off a captor. The captivity from which we are rescued is one that we have been happily complicit in, not even wanting rescue. “He was in the world…yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him (John 1:10-11.)” The ransom worked in the sacrificial death of Jesus was ransom from sin – from the determination to be autonomous from God.
This autonomy from God – expressed in neither honouring God as God, nor giving thanks to him (Rom. 1:18-21.) This means in effect doing what God says only when it suits us (and ignoring him when it doesn’t), and treating everything that comes our way as our right rather than as gift,(and getting cranky when what we think is our right doesn’t come our way.) It is not something that we can autonomously throw off. Autonomy overthrowing autonomy leaves you with autonomy! That is the futile circle of the generations that we are caught in. It kills the possibility of true community – see Romans 1 22ff.
A lamb without blemish or spot – that is sacrificial atonement language. It is only the sacrificial death of Jesus to deal with sins, and his resurrection from the dead to open the possibility of a new life that takes us out of the death spiral of humanity. The church is the community that has been sprinkled with blood that liberates us from a guilty conscience, makes us clean, breaks the power of sin, and makes peace between us and God.
We can only relate properly to one another through God who made us both, so this reconciliation with God through blood is essential for community. A community that attempts to build itself any other way will be essentially idealistic – and in there will be the seeds of its own destruction.
The response of the community which has been ransomed with the precious blood of Christ is to be obedient children. That is the community of those who are thankful to God and who honour God as God. This means we can put aside these things in our relationships with each other (2:1) – malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander. Instead we have goodwill, honesty, sincerity, gladness at the good of others, and kind speech.