Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:13
You were never intended to be mediocre. Your life, from its very beginnings, has never been meant for anything less than spectacular. For some of you, you hear these words and think, “I knew it!” Others find it hard to believe–so hard to believe, in fact, that I may have lost your attention already. Both of you, the bold and the broken, may need to take a step back for a minute; be willing to take off your expectation lenses and think about this.
It is not a difficult thing to picture our lives as counting for something. Those of us who think of such purpose as illusory usually held on to that hope at one point before stepping down into “reality.” Remember the imagination of your youth? If you were like me, you ran around the yard with a stick, saving the world from the Dark Side of the Force. We imagine great stories with grand plots. And what enthralls us about these dramas we create? I think that it usually centers on the iconic idea of good overcoming evil.
As children, we have this hopeful belief that, one day, the bad things in our lives will disappear, and in our bravest moments, we see ourselves as somehow playing a part in leading the victory charge. When I was a kid, I fought against imaginary evils from epics like Star Wars and The Legend of Zelda video game series. Ganon and Vader were my enemies because, in my childhood, they were the greatest evils I ever encountered. I lived a blessed life growing up.
Yet, as I have grown into adulthood, the evil in this world, the real evil, has become ever more apparent. To my young eyes and ears, the terrible stories that streamed across the nightly news seemed extremely foreign. Even in my middle school years when those planes flew into the Twin Towers, I had a hard time comprehending the severity of the malevolence that drove such actions. It’s not until you feel pain inflicted upon you, even trite, little pains, that you start to realize how evil leads to tragedy.
All of us grow out of the innocence of youth–some of us faster than others. Though we grow older, that desire to see good triumph over evil is not immediately eradicated. Many of us embrace a cavalier attitude and ride out to fight against various evils. We donate to causes. We sign a litany of petitions. Some will even volunteer their time and serve or, warrior of warriors, devote an entire career to some nonprofit institution. All of these things are well and good, but have you ever noticed that most of the organizations that we stand behind–the politicians, the charities, the whatever–have a corresponding organization that opposes it? Do we ever consider that behind those faceless organizations (or, ironically, faceless politicians) are people just like us, with the same fire, who want to see good overcome evil?
For us as humans, this is the scope of our depravity, I think. We fight wars against ourselves as if we are the enemy. How easy it is for us to look outside ourselves to find our adversaries. Irony of ironies however, our greatest enemies are ourselves, just not the selves outside of us. Within each of us, individually, is this deformed psyche that holds on to selfishness and pride. To make it personal, I do not think that I have ever had any trouble looking at other people and picking out their flaws. I have a hard time picking out my own inconsistencies until, that is, I get a good look of myself in the mirror.
Going back to verses 10-12 of 1 Peter, we see talk about a salvation. Selfish, sinful brokenness–that is what this salvation saves us from. From this salvation, verse 13 states that we should be “preparing our minds for action,” which I think means a preparation to play a part in this grand story of good versus evil. Yet, we are also told to be “sober-minded” in our efforts because we can easily make enemies of the wrong things or the wrong people. Remember that “grace…will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
In this grand narrative of good overcoming evil in this world, the evil in you must be fought first. Do not rush off to support causes without first setting your hope on the only real cause that can affect this human condition: the grace that comes from Jesus Christ. Do not make war against anything else until you have realized that you need to instigate a war against yourself. The evil that you are so ready to call out and decry in others also runs rampant in you as well.
Once grace starts working in you through Jesus Christ, then you will realize that the war against evil needs to be fought in an entirely different way. So, make war against yourself, and realize that Christ has that victory won for you.