18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to the kind and gentle but also to the overbearing. 19 For one is approved if, mindful of God, he endures pain while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God’s approval. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. – 1 Peter 2:18-25 RSV
As an individual reads the bible more and learns more about Jesus and what life as a Christian is, it gets pretty overwhelming. The whole battle of denying self, serve others, last is first, first is last, pick up your cross, bear another’s burdens. If one really walks as a Christian, follower of Jesus, it really does make a difference in one’s life. If being a Christian has not turned your life inside out and made you an outcast, you might want to schedule some time with your discipleship partner and have a discussion.
Being a Christian is not something we just come to understand and apply it to our life like a new ball cap or jersey. It is the foundation of who we are. The true walk of a Christian believer and follower is not common in this world. It is life altering, it is a radical way of life. We don’t add Jesus to our old life and just go on our merry way. When a person accepts Jesus as their savior, they change their identity. The leisure activities change, their personal desires change, how they spend their money changes. Life changes for eternity. That is what Peter is writing about and really comes to a raw section this week.
How has your life changed since following Jesus? What are some new things you have begun to do? What have you ceased doing? Have people called you out for being different?
Letter division & context
This section begins the second part of Peters division of the letter. The first section that we have read up to this part has been about our destiny, about our salvation; where we are going. Now Peter slides into the next topic, that of submission, our duty, what we are expected to do and what we can expect in this world as we follow Jesus, the Christ.
The context of this section is from verse 18, where it states that Christians are elected, they are chosen by God, and they have a purpose. It is not by accident that you have a relationship with Jesus. We don’t have a relationship with Jesus for our own gain. It is not like a benefit to our life to have Jesus as our savior. It is actually the other way around, we are followers of Jesus to bless him.
9You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9 ESV
The chosen that were saved from the darkness are chosen to proclaim the excellencies of God. It does not say that they are chosen to have a special blessing and win all their sporting events, never get in arguments and have no financial or medical challenges. But how many times does the world and the enemy try to brand Christianity as such? Verse 11 goes on with some more context for us:
11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. – 1 Peter 2:11 NLT
We are born into this world, and this world is all we know before we get introduced to Christ. So when things get difficult and things seem uncomfortable, our first instinct is to go back to safety. It is a survival instinct in our souls, but the issue is not the desire to seek safety, but that we believe that the world is our safety.
Peter explains multiple times, we are foreigners, not of this world; and our goal is to live such a life that would glorify God; live in a way that shows God. But a Christian that makes no visible difference simply cannot show God. That is not a true Christian life. Jesus called the people that believed and did not show God hypocrites.
So here is a real challenge that I have had to face…
Do you really think you have to wear a cross around your neck to make sure everyone knows that you are a follower of Jesus? Don’t you think how you live, what you do and how you act should make it evident that you are different than people “in the world”? Do you think wearing a cross helps sell the idea that you are saved or that Jesus loves you?
We have experienced some real tough emotional times, right here in our group. The world we are in is not pleasurable. There is no pause button for when things align, and seem right. We get faced with medical challenges, employment challenges, family challenges, church challenges, our own identity issues. Influences from others, pain and consequences from our past. But yet, we are supposed to live life in a way that glorifies God through it all. To walk in the light in such a way that it is apparent that we are different. We are not who we were. We are aliens, our identity is not of this world. We might be from Columbus, America, etc. but that is not our identity.
As we continue our walk together, with Christ, through this life, in this world, may we grasp a little bit more of Him each day. As long and deep as this discussion can be, may it open the door widely for next weeks conversation of Opposing Familiarity….