Waiting rooms mean leafing through dog-eared copies of People magazine. What a waste of productive work time. I could probably get some things done while sitting there, but that determination never seems to materialize. If you’re an eight-year-old, the experience is much worse. Waiting plus immaturity plus energy turns into a chaos cocktail. A couple of kids can demolish a guest lobby and make each other cry in just ten minutes. I have that accomplishment on my own resume. An aggravated nurse once threatened to come out of the reception area and give me and my siblings a round of shots if we didn’t behave (that was back before she would have been officially reprimanded and written up in the newspaper for saying it). Big question: What should we do while we wait for the return of Jesus Christ? If we don’t know, life here will become a waiting room experience—unproductive, boring, or riddled with destructive mischief.
That’s why Peter addresses it by spelling out what we shouldn’t do: As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance” (1:14). That means don’t be shaped by the drives and cravings of your past life—your behavior back before you ever knew God or what the Bible said. Don’t become idle and start dumpster diving back into the sins of your past life.
Okay, then what should we get into? “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in your conduct since it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1:15-16). This is what God wants for us while we wait. He knows what we might get into otherwise.
Parents know these things. That’s why mom and dad secure poisonous substances or put them up high, out of reach. We instinctively know little kids get bored and drink Drano. And while we’re at it, what is it with kids? Does Liquid Plumber come in cherry flavor? I can’t understand the attraction to toxic awful tasting substances. And we can’t get them to eat spinach. The only way you could have gotten me to ingest paint chips was to salt and flavor them with bacon and cheddar.
Anyway, my wife came from the back of the house one time only to find our three-year old Elizabeth, flashing a mouthful of neon orange teeth. “Look!” she said in her cute baby voice. My wife was horrified. “What have you done?” she asked. Elizabeth replied, “I ate vitamin c’s—many of them!” The little tyke had pushed a chair up to the kitchen counter, climbed onto it, and eaten about half a jug of flavored vitamin c tablets. My wife called poison control. They told her to either let the vitamin c run its course which would end in almost certain diarrhea, or give her syrup of epicac and get some barfing started. My wife opted for the epicac. It was an orange extravaganza that day.
Point is, we can get into plenty of things while we await the return of Jesus. Some stuff is flavored. It tastes good. The moral and spiritual drift of our day has more flavors than an ice cream parlor. God the Father does not want us getting into any of it. I commonly hear people (including Christians), say they’re okay with this or that thing. But God didn’t ask if we were okay with something. Of course we’re okay with it; we’re unholy. He’s telling us He’s not okay with it.
During this interim time between Christ’s departure and second coming, we haven’t been turned loose to sample everything that might look edible. Instead, God commands us to get into Him. He gave us a book that shows what He likes and doesn’t like. The Bible literally describes holiness in selfless service to people, life change, deep devotions, the worship of Him, ethical relationships with other people that get transformed for the better, and the excellent fruit of life in the Spirit.
In other words, no rat poison.