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Are You Astonishing?

If Jesus Christ does not make a difference in our lives, it is because He is not there. Your mirror will only reflect your face; your actions will reflect the presence of someone else, if He is there.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony
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Chalcedon Report No. 295, February 1990

St. Peter’s first letter was written to believers whom he called “strang­ers” or sojourners “throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1 Pet. 1:1). Before their conversion, they had been drunks and spendthrifts, idolatrous and lascivious men. Now people were sur­prised by their conduct. 

“They think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you” (1 Pet. 4:4). The Greek word (xenizo) trans­lated as “strange” can also be rendered as “astonished” or “surprised.”

Thus, Peter tells us, first, that the changed life of the new Christians seemed strange or surprising to their friends and neighbors. It came as a shock to them that these recently wild men were now so different. Sec­ond, instead of being happy about it, these men spoke evil of the new Christians. The godliness of the convert does not please the ungodly; instead, it creates resentment. 

But notice this important fact: they could see the difference, whether they liked it or not! When I was in high school, a prominent California pastor died suddenly of a heart attack, and there was a newspaper ac­count of his career the next day. One shocked reader was a man who worked in the mountains above us in the spring as a guide for trout fisher­men, and on the lakes in the summer. He said, “I’ve taken him fishing for years, and I never knew he was a minister!” That was perhaps the saddest obituary I ever heard. 

If people cannot see a difference in our lives, then something is wrong. Peter was happy that the people to whom he wrote were astonishing peo­ple, and also upsetting them apparently, because of the difference in their lives. If Jesus Christ does not make a difference in our lives, it is because He is not there. Your mirror will only reflect your face; your actions will reflect the presence of someone else, if He is there. Who is there in your actions?


R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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