“Clean House” 1 Peter 2:1-3
When I was a child, my mother had a practice on Saturday mornings of opening up the house.. doors and windows and “air it out “. This was a terrible way to wake up in January. She was a cleaner. I awoke early to the sound of a vacuum cleaner banging into my bedroom door. She would open my door and the flood of cold air would fill my room. I would retreat and hide under the covers.
So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of Gods pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God. (1 Peter 2:1-3 MSG)
At first glance, this looks a lot like a self help, motivational proclamation. I have shelves full of self help books I’ve collected over the years. Most of them do little more than help me put better language to describing my weakness’s.
This is different.
When I read this passage in The Message Bible I paused and asked God “so what does this really mean ?” I believe He unpacked this for me a bit.
Here is what proceeded the So … Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from Gods living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself! Thats why the prophet said, The old life is a grass life, its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers; Grass dries up, flowers droop, Gods Word goes on and on forever. This is the Word that conceived the new life in you. (1 Peter 1:22-25 MSG)
Peter is talking to new Christ followers. In relative terms.. I think thats all of us.” So clean house ! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. “
Malice – The desire or intention to do evil or ill will..
Pretense – An attempt to make something that is not the case appear true..
Envy – A resentful longing aroused by someones else’s property or qualities…
Hurtful talk – Causing distress to someones feelings and reputation with words…
My mental image of the clean house starts with opening the curtains, windows and doors allowing both light and air into the room… Now you can see what you are dealing with.. A much clearer picture of the “task at hand”. Move the furniture around and an even more detailed picture comes into view. This is where things start to get ugly. I think Peter is assisting his readers by providing them ( and us ) with the list of what they are likely to find under the rug that hasn’t been moved in some time.
I remember a line from a Dan Fogelberg song in the 70’s: “When faced with the past, even the strongest man cries”.
The list is not how we want to see in ourselves… in the glaring sunlight we are exposed.. we want to do the exact same thing Adam and Eve did… run and hide!
Peter wisely doesn’t belabor the point. He quickly reminds them of a very important truth.. lest they lose heart in condemnation. And to coax them out from hiding.
“You’ve had a taste of God ! “
Could there be a more reassuring word ? When you have been forced to see yourself.. naked and vulnerable internally.. Peter is introducing the solution to their dilemma in the same breath.
Yes, your house is filthy.. but there is someone who will help you clean it. And not just a surface ” sponge bath ” but a complete renovation ! Peter is acknowledging that his readers have just begun. They’ve had a taste “.. just a sip..
Now Peter introduces the 12 step plan with guaranteed results for 6 payments of $29.95. Just kidding 🙂 Kinda.. This is often what people get told / sold .. it’s not true. ( another topic for another day )
What Peter tells them is the core of discipleship and relationship with God !
“Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of Gods pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.”
I am hard-pressed to find more intimate imagery in the bible. We are like infants nursing at our mothers breast. Infants are completely dependent and helpless. I think women get this image quicker than men do. Most men I know hate to appear weak in any way, much less to be as as vulnerable as an infant. They also find it difficult to receive God in such a clearly feminine depiction even though the bible clearly teaches that He created ” man and woman ” in His image. Male and female.
The life giving instruction continues… “drink deep “. This is surely said to contrast his earlier comment ” you’ve had a taste “. Peter is telling them.. there is more .. much more !
“Drink Deep of God’s pure kindness”. This should bring pause to all of us… This is the core. Â Peter knew his readers lives were a mess just like he knows our lives are a mess in some way or another. He also knows there is only one solution and it’s a person. God is a person. He proved it when He showed up in human form as Jesus. Babies nurse from their mother. We are meant to be nurtured in relationship.. which means continual communication with our Heavenly Father. In this context.. it’s one on one.. “as a baby at the breast “.. receiving from Him who is “pure kindness “. Peter wanted his readers to know something about this God he is calling them to be intimate with.
He is safe and so much more !
His readers had grown up under oppressive religion ( we have our own version ) and it was important that they begin to have that punitive false image of the angry God, eager for judgment dispelled.
And then, the promise: “Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.”
Peter abandons the metaphor.. He tells his readers what they are longing to hear.. you will finally be healed of the diseases displayed in the list. The ones that plague us all. The disease no program or course can ever conquer. Only He who created us knows us well enough to recreate us. He recreates us at His breast.. and nowhere else.
Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.