Friday, September 22, 2017

Evidence that Jesus never asks us to do soemthing that He has not already done...


This week we have been looking at s section of a letter in the Bible called the book of 1 Peter, where we have discovered that living as part of God’s kingdom community should lead to a life that represents Jesus well in our relationships with others. In 1 Peter 3:8-12, we see Peter reveal for us two different ways that we represent Jesus well in our relationships with others.

First we have seen Peter reveal for us the reality that we represent Jesus well in our relationships with others when we live in genuine and authentic community with one another as a church. As followers of Jesus we represent Jesus well as a church when we are living in genuine and authentic community with one another that is marked by unity. As followers of Jesus we represent Jesus well as a church when we are living in genuine and authentic community with one another that is marked by an understanding of one another. As followers of Jesus we represent Jesus well as a church when we are living in genuine and authentic community with one another that is marked by a mutual, brotherly and sisterly love for one another. As followers of Jesus we represent Jesus well as a church when we are living in genuine and authentic community with one another that is marked by compassion for one another. And as followers of Jesus we represent Jesus well as a church when we are living in genuine and authentic community with one another that is marked by humility toward one another.

Wednesday we saw Peter reveal for us the reality that we represent Jesus well in our relationships with others when we respond to being wronged the right way. As followers of Jesus, we respond to being wronged the right way when we refuse to respond in kind. And as followers of Jesus, we respond to being wronged the right way when we ask God to extend favor to the one who wronged us. As followers of Jesus, we are to ask God to extend favor to the one who wronged us in response to the life that Jesus called us to live as part of God’s kingdom community.

You see, we are called as followers of Jesus to follow the example of Jesus by blessing those who insult and wrong us. We are called to respond to being wronged in such a way because our inheritance of the blessings that come as a part of God’s kingdom community are freely given to us as we live out our identity in that community. And as Peter points out, our inheritance of the blessings that come as a part of God’s kingdom community enable and empower us to seek God’s favor on others, even those who do wrong to us.

Now right about now you are pushing back against everything I have just said. Maybe you are thinking to yourself “Well Dave If you only knew my situation; if you only knew how I have been wronged, you would not be saying what you just said to me. If you only knew how I have been wronged, you would understand why I think it is okay to retaliate and respond in kind to what has been done to me.  If you only knew how I have been wronged, you would understand why I am not going to ask God to extend favor to the person who has wronged me.”

If those thoughts, questions, and objections are running through your mind, I just want to let you know that those are fair objections. And we see how Peter responded to those objections in 1 Peter 3:10-12. Let’s look at it together:

 For, "THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT. 11 "HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT. 12 "FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL."

Here we see Peter quote from a section of a letter that is preserved and recorded for us in the Old Testament of the Bible called the book of Psalms. In Psalm 34:12-16, the Jewish nation’s most famous king, King David proclaimed that the person who desired to experience life in right relationship with God and who took pleasure in living as a part of God’s kingdom community in relationship with God kept their speech free from what was morally or socially reprehensible and from what would be considered shady or underhanded.

King David proclaimed that the person who desired to experience life in right relationship with God and who took pleasure in living as a part of God’s kingdom community in relationship with God ceased engaging in actions that were morally or socially reprehensible. Instead the person who desired to experience life in right relationship with God and who took pleasure in living as a part of God’s kingdom community in relationship with God strove to live in a way that met a high standard of worth and merit and for harmony in their relationships with others.

King David explained that the reason why the person who desired to experience life in right relationship with God and who took pleasure in living as a part of God’s kingdom community in relationship with God would live in such a way was due the reality that the Lord is attentive to and present in the life of a person who strived to live in a way that promoted what was right and just and that promoted a right and just society. By contrast, King David proclaimed that the Lord positions Himself in opposition to those who live in a way that is morally or socially reprehensible in how they treat others.

Peter quoted from this Psalm to reveal the reality that the Lord is against anyone who wrongs another. Peter’s point in that the Lord will position Himself in opposition to anyone, even Christians, who speak and act in a way that is morally or socially reprehensible, regardless of the circumstances that preceded such behavior. Peter quoted from this Old Testament Psalm to underscore the reality that asking God to extend favor to the one who wronged us has been a part of God’s kingdom community all along.

You see, God’s kingdom community has always been concerned with one thing. And that one thing is that members of God’s kingdom community represent Him well. And it is our response to when we are wronged that serves as a powerful apologetic that brings the light of the Kingdom of Heaven into the dark spaces and places where wrong occurs. And in the same way today, living as part of God’s kingdom community is to live in a way that represents Jesus well by responding to the wrong that occurs to us in our lives in a way that is an apologetic for the claims of Christ and the message of the gospel by doing the right thing in the face of that wrong.

Because, as we have discovered, living as part of God’s kingdom community should lead to a life that represents Jesus well in our relationships with others. As followers of Jesus, we represent Jesus well in our relationships with others when we live in genuine and authentic community with one another as a church. A church, a community of faith that is marked by unity: an understanding of one another: a mutual, brotherly or sisterly love for one another: a compassion for others: a humility towards others.

And as followers of Jesus we represent Jesus well in our relationships with others when we respond to being wronged the right way. As followers of Jesus, we respond to being wronged the right way when we refuse to respond in kind. And as followers of Jesus, we respond to being wronged the right way when we ask God to extend favor to the one who wronged us. You see, Jesus never asks us to do something that He has not already done for us. As followers of Jesus, we are called to follow the example of Jesus by blessing those who insult and wrong us.

As followers of Jesus, our inheritance of the blessings that come as a part of God’s kingdom community are freely given to us as we live out our identity in that community in our day to day lives in relationship with those around us. As followers of Jesus, it is our inheritance of the blessings that come as a part of God’s kingdom community that enable and empower us to seek God’s favor on others, even those who do wrong to us. And as followers of Jesus, the reality is that asking God to extend favor to the one who wronged us has been a part of God’s kingdom community all along.

So here is a question to consider: Do you represent Jesus well in your relationships with others? Do you represent Jesus well when it comes to how you live in community with other followers of Jesus? Do you represent Jesus when it comes to how you live in relationship with those who do not know Jesus? Do you represent Jesus well when it comes to how you respond when wronged? Do you respond in kind when wronged? Or do you respond by revealing and reflecting Jesus as you pray for God’s favor on those who wrong you?

Because, living as part of God’s kingdom community should lead to a life that represents Jesus well in our relationships with others…

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

We represent Jesus well in our relationships with others when we respond to being wronged the right way...


This week, we are looking at a section of a letter that has been preserved and recorded for us in the New Testament of the Bible called the book of 1 Peter. Yesterday, we began to look at 1 Peter 3:8-12, where we discovered that living as part of God’s kingdom community should lead to a life that represents Jesus well in our relationships with others.

And in 1 Peter 3:8-12, we are going to see Peter reveal for us two different ways that we represent Jesus well in our relationships with others. First, in verse 8, we saw Peter reveal for us the reality that we represent Jesus well in our relationships with others when we live in genuine and authentic community with one another as a church.

As followers of Jesus we represent Jesus well as a church when we are living in genuine and authentic community with one another that is marked by unity. As followers of Jesus we represent Jesus well as a church when we are living in genuine and authentic community with one another that is marked by an understanding of one another. As followers of Jesus we represent Jesus well as a church when we are living in genuine and authentic community with one another that is marked by a mutual, brotherly and sisterly love for one another.

As followers of Jesus we represent Jesus well as a church when we are living in genuine and authentic community with one another that is marked by compassion for one another. And as followers of Jesus we represent Jesus well as a church when we are living in genuine and authentic community with one another that is marked by humility toward one another.

We asked the question “Do these characteristics mark the church you attend? Would people who explore faith here at your church say that these are the traits that mark your church? Would people in the community say these things about your church if they were asked about the church?

Is your church marked by unity? An understanding of one another? A mutual, brotherly or sisterly love for one another? A compassion for others? A humility towards others? Because, as Peter points out in this verse, as followers of Jesus we represent Jesus well in our relationships with others when we live in genuine and authentic community with one another as a church.

Today we will see Peter make a subtle transition, from addressing how followers of Jesus should live in relationship with one another as part of the church, to addressing how followers of Jesus should respond when we are wronged by others who are outside the church. We see this subtle shift in 1 Peter 3:9. Let’s look at it together:

not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

Now to fully understand what Peter is communicating in this verse, we first need to understand the culture to which Peter was writing these verses to. You see, in the Greco-Roman culture of the first century, a person’s honor was of ultimate value and virtue. A person’s honor was to be defended at all times and a person always sought to enhance their honor, often at the expense of others.

Sociologists and historians refer to this phenomenon as being an honor shame culture. So when a person’s honor was questioned or challenged, the cultural expectation would be that one would retaliate, in kind, in order to defend one’s honor and reputation and in order to bring shame to another’s honor and reputation. So, in the culture that these early followers of Jesus lived in, a common occurrence would be instances that were referred to as honor challenges.

In honor challenges, one person would attempt to challenge another’s honor so as to increase their honor as they shamed the other person. The outcomes of these honor challenges would establish a sort of societal pecking order when it came to status within the culture. Now, to respond to one’s honor being challenged by not retaliating, by not responding in kind, would be viewed as most unusual by the culture around them and would give them pause.

However, that is exactly what Peter commanded these early followers of Jesus to do here. Instead of retaliating when wronged; instead of responding in kind when wronged, Peter commanded these early followers of Jesus to give a blessing instead. When Peter uses this phrase, he was calling early followers of Jesus to pray sincerely for the person that wronged them in a way that asked God to bestow divine favor upon them.

Peter was calling these early followers of Jesus, and followers of Jesus throughout history, to respond to being wronged by praying that God would intervene in that person’s life in a way that extended His divine favor upon them so that they would come to know Him. Peter then provided the reason why they were to respond to such a way to being wronged by stating “for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing”.

With this phrase, Peter is revealing the reality that God chose and drew these early followers of Jesus to the place where they experienced the blessings that come as a result of experiencing the forgiveness of sin and the relationship with God that they were created for though Jesus life, death, and resurrection so that they may be used by God in a way that reveals and reflects Jesus in how they respond to being wronged by others.

You see, just as we discovered a few weeks ago in 1 Peter 2:23, Jesus opened a new and better way that breaks the escalation of conflict and provides an example for us to follow as followers of Jesus. Once again, Peter is reminding followers of Jesus throughout history that part of following Jesus is to respond to the suffering and wrong that occurs in our lives in a way that is an apologetic for the claims of Christ and the message of the gospel by doing the right thing in the face of opposition and suffering for doing the right thing.

And it is here that we see Peter reveal for us the reality that we represent Jesus well in our relationships with others when we respond to being wronged the right way. As followers of Jesus, we respond to being wronged the right way when we refuse to respond in kind. And as followers of Jesus, we respond to being wronged the right way when we ask God to extend favor to the one who wronged us.

As followers of Jesus, we are to ask God to extend favor to the one who wronged us in response to the life that Jesus called us to live as part of God’s kingdom community. You see, we are called as followers of Jesus to follow the example of Jesus by blessing those who insult and wrong us. We are called to respond to being wronged in such a way because our inheritance of the blessings that come as a part of God’s kingdom community are freely given to us as we live out our identity in that community. And as Peter points out, our inheritance of the blessings that come as a part of God’s kingdom community enable and empower us to seek God’s favor on others, even those who do wrong to us.

Now right about now you might be pushing back against everything I have just said. Maybe you are thinking to yourself “Well Dave If you only knew my situation; if you only knew how I have been wronged, you would not be saying what you just said to me. If you only knew how I have been wronged, you would understand why I think it is okay to retaliate and respond in kind to what has been done to me.  If you only knew how I have been wronged, you would understand why I am not going to ask God to extend favor to the person who has wronged me.”

If those thoughts, questions, and objections, are running through your mind, I just want to let you know that those are fair objections. And we see how Peter responded to those objections in what he says next.

Friday we will see what Peter has to say next…

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Living as part of God’s kingdom community should lead to a life that represents Jesus well in our relationships with others...


At the church where I serve, we have been looking at a letter that is preserved and recorded for us in the New Testament of the Bible called the book of 1 Peter as part of a sermon series entitled living as part of God’s kingdom community. During this series, we are asking the question “How should followers of Jesus live out our identity as followers of Jesus who are part of God’s kingdom community in the midst of a rapidly changing culture? How should followers of Jesus live out our identity as followers of Jesus who are part of God’s kingdom community when our faith is minimized and marginalized? How should followers of Jesus live out our identity as followers of Jesus who are part of God’s kingdom community when our faith is ridiculed, criticized, and slandered?”

This week, I would like for us to spend our time together picking up where we left off last week. And as we jump into the next section of this letter, we will discover another timeless truth about how we are to live out our identity as followers of Jesus who are part of God’s kingdom community in the midst of a rapidly changing culture. So let’s discover that timeless truth together, beginning in 1 Peter 3:8:

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

Peter begins this section of his letter with the phrase “to sum up”.  With this phrase, Peter is basically saying “In conclusion to what I have been saying in this part of my letter to you: In light of the fact that living as part of God’s kingdom community should impact how we live out our day to day lives in relationship with others. In light of my concern was that our relationships would be an apologetic for the claims of Christ and the message of the gospel that affirmed part of that social order that lined up with the message and teachings of Jesus while rejecting those parts of the social order that were not compatible with the message and teachings of Jesus.

In light of the fact that living as part of God’s kingdom community should lead to a life that represents Jesus well in the face of suffering at the hands of others. In light of the fact that living as part of God’s kingdom community should result in wives representing Jesus well in marriage. In light of the fact that living as part of God’s kingdom community should result in husbands representing Jesus well in marriage: In light of the key question “Are followers of Jesus representing Jesus well? What is the reputation of followers of Jesus in the eyes of unbelievers?”In light of that, to conclude my thoughts on how you are to live out your day to day lives as part of God’s kingdom community in relationships with others, I am going to give you an overarching command concerning your relationships with others.

Peter then commanded the readers of his letter, and followers of Jesus throughout history, “be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.” Now when Peter uses the word harmonious, this word literally means to be like minded in spirit. In addition, the word sympathetic means to be understanding to another. The word brotherly conveys the sense of having a mutual brotherly or sisterly affection for another. The word kindhearted literally means to be tenderhearted or compassionate toward another. And the phrase humble of spirit conveys the sense of declaring oneself powerless to defend one’s status or position.

And it is with these string of commands that Peter reveals a timeless truth when it comes to about how we are to live out our identity as followers of Jesus who are part of God's kingdom community in the midst of a rapidly changing culture as followers of Jesus. And that timeless truth is this: Living as part of God’s kingdom community should lead to a life that represents Jesus well in our relationships with others. Just as it was for these early followers of Jesus who were experiencing sadness and suffering as a result of their current circumstances; just as it has been for followers of Jesus throughout history, living as part of God’s kingdom community should lead to a life that represents Jesus well in our relationships with others.

And in 1 Peter 3:8-12, we are going to see Peter reveal for us two different ways that we represent Jesus well in our relationships with others. First, in verse 8, we see Peter reveal for us the reality that we represent Jesus well in our relationships with others when we live in genuine and authentic community with one another as a church.

As followers of Jesus, we represent Jesus well as a church when we are living in genuine and authentic community with one another that is marked by unity. As followers of Jesus, we represent Jesus well as a church when we are living in genuine and authentic community with one another that is marked by an understanding of one another. As followers of Jesus, we represent Jesus well as a church when we are living in genuine and authentic community with one another that is marked by a mutual, brotherly and sisterly love for one another. As followers of Jesus, we represent Jesus well as a church when we are living in genuine and authentic community with one another that is marked by compassion for one another. And as followers of Jesus, we represent Jesus well as a church when we are living in genuine and authentic community with one another that is marked by humility toward one another.

So here is a question to consider: Do these characteristics mark the church you attend?  Would people who explore faith the church you attend say that these are the traits that mark your church? Would people in the community say these things about the church you attend if they were asked about your church?

Is the church you attend marked by unity? An understanding of one another? A mutual, brotherly or sisterly love for one another? A compassion for others? A humility towards others? Because, as Peter points out in this verse, as followers of Jesus we represent Jesus well in our relationships with others when we live in genuine and authentic community with one another as a church.

Peter than makes a subtle transition, from addressing how followers of Jesus should live in relationship with one another as part of the church, to addressing how followers of Jesus should respond when we are wronged by others who are outside the church.

We will see this subtle shift in verse 9 tomorrow…

Friday, September 15, 2017

Husbands represent Jesus well in marriage when they live in a way that brings honor to Jesus and their wives...


This week, we have been looking at a section of a letter that is recorded for us in the Bible called the book of 1 Peter. We looked at 1 Peter 3:7 and discovered that living as part of God’s kingdom community should result in husbands representing Jesus well in marriage. In 1 Peter 3:7, we see Peter reveal for us two ways that living as part of God’s kingdom community should result in husbands representing Jesus well in marriage.

Tuesday, we saw Peter reveal for us the reality that husbands represent Jesus well in marriage when they live they live in a way that demonstrates an awareness of where their wives are at in their lives. Husbands demonstrate a respect for their wives by exercising an awareness of where their wives are at when it comes to having a relationship with God.

And husbands demonstrate a respect for their wives by exercising an awareness of how their wives have been wired by God. Husbands are to exercise an awareness that their wives have been wired differently physically and are to treat them accordingly in a way that results in the spiritual good, growth, and flourishing. And husbands are to exercise an awareness that their wives have been wired differently emotionally and are to treat them accordingly in a way that results in the spiritual good, growth, and flourishing. Peter then reveals a second way that husbands represent Jesus well in marriage in the second half of 1 Peter3:7. Let’s look at the entire verse again:

You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

Now when Peter uses the word honor, here, this word refers to honor as a possession. In other words, honor here refers to the respect that one is to enjoy. So Peter here is commanding husbands to give their wives respect as a result of the commitment that they had made to their wives to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Peter then explains that the reason why they were to give their wives respect was due to the fact that she is a fellow heir of the grace of life. But that does that mean?

With this phrase, Peter is referring to God’s transformational intervention and activity in the world through Jesus that results in one experiencing eternal life in relationship with God.  Peter’s point is that both men and women are equal recipients of the inheritance that comes as a result of being a part of God’s kingdom community called the church. Both men and women equally have a new identity as a part of God’s kingdom community as a result of God’s transformational intervention and activity through Jesus in their lives. And because of that reality, husbands were to treat their wives with respect.

Peter then warns husbands throughout history that failure to treat their wives with honor and respect would result in their prayers being hindered. You see, how we live out our horizontal relationships with others here on earth impacts the depth and intimacy that we have in our vertical relationship with God. You see, here’s the thing: the reason why the health of you marriage is so important in God’s eyes: the reason why God has a divine design for the roles that men and women are to have within a marriage relationship is that marriage has been divinely designed by God to be a picture on earth of the intimacy that we will have for all eternity with Jesus.

Marriage was designed by God to be a word picture to the unbelieving world around us of the vulnerability, the transparency, and the intimacy that followers of Jesus will experience for all eternity with Him. Again, Peter is concerned with the key question “Are followers of Jesus representing Jesus well? What is the reputation of followers of Jesus in the eyes of unbelievers?”

Peter recognized that as these early followers of Jesus lived as citizens of God’s kingdom community, that they would be watched closely by those around them as they lived distinctively different lives than those in the community around them. And nowhere would that dynamic be more evident than in relationship between a husband and a wife. Peter recognized the power that a healthy, vibrant marriage that was lived out according to God’s design would have to be used by God to bring those around them to the place where they became followers of Jesus as well.

And it is here that we see Peter reveal for us the reality that husbands represent Jesus well in marriage when they live in a way that brings honor to Jesus and their wives. Husbands bring honor to Jesus and their wives by recognizing their equal inheritance as a part of God’s kingdom community. Husbands bring honor to Jesus and their wives by treating their wives as those who have an equal inheritance as a part of God’s kingdom community as a result of equally experiencing God’s transformational activity in their lives that results in them equally receiving eternal life through faith in Christ.

And husbands bring honor to Jesus and their wives by recognizing that failing to honor their wives slows their spiritual progress. You see, when husbands bring honor to Jesus and their wives, the result is a marriage that serves as an apologetic for the claims of Christ and the message of the gospel to the unbelieving world around them, as they live faithfully as a part of God’s kingdom community. And for Peter, living as part of God’s kingdom community should result in husbands representing Jesus well in marriage.

As part of God’s kingdom community, husbands represent Jesus well in marriage when they live they live in a way that demonstrates an awareness of where their wives are at in their lives. Husbands demonstrate a respect for their wives by exercising an awareness of where their wives are at when it comes to having a relationship with God and when it comes to how their wives have been wired by God.

And as part of God’s kingdom community, husbands represent Jesus well in marriage when they live in a way that brings honor to Jesus and their wives. Husbands bring honor to Jesus and their wives by recognizing their equal inheritance as a part of God’s kingdom community. And husbands bring honor to Jesus and their wives by recognizing that failing to honor their wives slows their spiritual progress.

So with that in mind, men here is a question to consider: Are you representing Jesus well in your marriage? Are you demonstrating an awareness of where your wives are at in their lives? Are you aware of where your wives are at spiritually? Emotionally? Are you living out your marriage relationship in a way that brings honor to Jesus and your wife? Are you struggling in your relationship with Jesus because you have not been honoring Jesus by how you treat your wife?

Because, the timeless reality is that living as part of God’s kingdom community should result in husbands representing Jesus well in marriage...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Living as part of God’s kingdom community should result in husbands representing Jesus well in marriage...


At the church where I serve, we are in the middle of a sermon series entitled living as part of God’s kingdom community. Last week, we discovered that living as part of God’s kingdom community should result in wives representing Jesus well in marriage. We talked about the reality that as part of God’s kingdom community, wives represent Jesus well in marriage when they respect their husbands in a way that results in a win for God's kingdom community. As part of God’s kingdom community, wives represent Jesus well in marriage when they live in a way that brings honor to Jesus and their husbands. And as part of God’s kingdom community, Wives represent Jesus well in marriage when they live in a way that follows the positive examples of the past.

This week, I would like for us to spend our time together picking up where we left off last week. And as we jump into the next section of this letter, we will see Peter continue to address how followers of Jesus represent Jesus well in marriage by turning his attention to the role that husbands have in marriage. And it is in this next section of this letter that we will discover a timeless truth about how we are to live as part of God’s kingdom community in the midst of a rapidly changing culture as followers of Jesus. So let’s discover that timeless truth together, beginning in 1 Peter 3:7:

You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman;

Now to fully understand what Peter is communicating to husbands in this verse, we first need to understand a few things. The first thing that we need to understand is what Peter means when he uses the phrase “in the same way”. With this phrase, Peter is continuing to connect what he had said in the previous sections of this letter to what he is about to say in this section of this letter.

As we discovered a few weeks ago, Peter began this stream of thought in 1 Peter 2:18, by commanding servants to be submissive to their masters with all respect. As we have talked about throughout this series, to submit is to willingly place oneself under others by placing others first based on one’s role in the relationship So Peter commanded slaves to willingly place themselves under their masters by placing their master first.

Peter then unpacked his command by explaining that slaves were to willingly place themselves under their masters by placing their master first in a way that results in obedience to their masters not only to those masters who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. In other words, Peter commanded slaves, regardless of how their master treated them, to willingly place themselves under their masters by placing their master first in a way that resulted in obedience to their masters.

Then, as we discovered last week in 1 Peter 3:1, Peter used the phrase “in the same way” to command wives to be submissive to your husbands, in the same way that slaves were to be submissive to their masters. In other words just as Peter commanded slaves to willingly place themselves under their masters by placing their master first, Peter commanded wives to willingly place themselves under their husbands by placing their husbands first.

And for Peter, wives are to willingly place themselves under their husbands by placing their husband first even if the husband was disobedient to the word. With this phrase, Peter is referring to husbands who were disobedient to the claims of Christ and the message of the gospel. So even if their husband was not a follower of Jesus, Peter commanded wives to willingly place themselves under their husband’s leadership by placing their husband first.

To understand why Peter would make such a command we first need to understand the context and the culture in which Peter was making this command. We talked about the reality that, in the Roman Empire during the first century, many slaves, especially house slaves, did not have separate living quarters. Instead house slaves typically lived in rooms within their masters homes. So, in the Roman culture of the first century, the expectation was that both a slave and wife were to live under the authority of the male authority figure in the home, who would be their master and their husband, respectively. The only difference between a slave and a wife was that a slave was viewed as property. The only difference between a slave and a wife was that the wife was viewed as being capable of making moral decisions.

In addition, in the Roman culture of the first century, the expectation was that a slave would worship his master’s God and that a wife would worship her husband’s God. To not worship their master’s or their husband’s god would be a sign of disrespect to his authority in the culture of the day. As we discovered a few weeks ago, in this section of the book of 1 Peter, Peter is addressing how followers of Jesus, as a result of their new identity as part of God’s Kingdom community, were to operate within the culture’s most basic social unit, the home.

Peter is addressing how a woman who was a follower of Jesus was to conduct herself in the situation where she was married to a man who was not a follower of Jesus. Peter’s concern was that the behavior of a wife who was a follower of Jesus would be an apologetic for the claims of Christ and the message of the gospel to the husband who was not a follower of Jesus. And just like we talked about a few weeks ago, part of that apologetic for the claims of Christ and the message of the gospel would be living their day to day lives in that social order of the home in a way that affirmed part of that social order that lined up with the message and teachings of Jesus while rejecting those parts of the social order that were not compatible with the message and teachings of Jesus.

So, in 1 Peter 3:7, Peter continues to address how the readers of his letter were to submit and live in relationship with one another as a part of the institution called family by commanding that, in the same way that slaves submit to their masters; in the same way that wives submit to their husbands, husbands are to live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman. Peter's point here is that the way that a husband willingly places themselves under their wives so as to place their wives first is by living with their wives in an understanding way. Now when Peter uses the phrase, live with your wives in an understanding way, this phrase conveys the sense of gaining an intellectual grasp of something.

Peter then unpacks what husbands are to gain an intellectual grasp of when it comes to their wives, with the phrase as with someone weaker, since she is a woman. Now it is important to understand that when Peter talks about women being weaker, he is not saying that women are less valuable than men.  Peter is not saying that women are of less worth than men. What Peter is saying with this phrase is that women are different than men. What Peter is saying with this phrase is that men and women have been created and wired differently to fulfill different roles and responsibilities. And intuitively we know this to be true, don’t we?

For example, while men and women have been designed by God with equal value and worth before God, they demonstrate strength in very different ways. As a general rule, men are physically stronger than women. As a general rule, men tend to bench press more than women. However, while men can bench more than women, women demonstrate and display strength in areas that make men shrivel and shrink. And men, if you don’t think that is the case, then you have probably never been in a room when a woman gives birth.

Another example involves how men and women relate to one another. Mark Driscoll once illustrated the difference between men and women by explaining that men are like a thermos, while women are like a goblet. Men are like a thermos: a thermos you can place in the back of a pickup truck and let it get tossed around; a thermos you can drop from a second story building; a thermos is designed in a way that it responds to circumstances in certain way. However, if you were to take a goblet and place it the back of a pickup truck; if you were to drop a goblet from a second story building, the goblet would respond to those circumstances much differently, wouldn’t it? It is not that the goblet is less valuable than the thermos; as a matter of fact the opposite is the case. Instead, the goblet is different than the thermos; it has a different role and responsibility to fulfill.

You see, when we read the letters that make up the Bible, what we discover is that while men and women are equal in value and worth in God’s creation, men and women have different roles and responsibilities to fulfill. Men have been divinely designed to fulfill the responsibility of exercising a role of leadership and authority as first among equals by lovingly leading, providing, and protecting women in ways that are appropriate to their relationship. Women are to fulfill their role in relationships by lovingly coming under and following godly male leadership in a way that allows for growth in their relationship with Christ and to exercise the gifts that God has given them.

And in this verse we see Peter reveal for us the reality that the way that a husband willingly places himself in a position where they placing their wives first is to live out their day to day lives in relationship with their wives in a way that results in them growing in awareness of where their wives are when it comes to their relationship with God and in how God has wired their wives. Peter’s concern was that the behavior of a husband who was a follower of Jesus would be an apologetic for the claims of Christ and the message of the gospel.

And just like we talked about a few weeks ago, part of that apologetic for the claims of Christ and the message of the gospel would be living their day to day lives in that social order of the home in a way that affirmed part of that social order that lined up with the message and teachings of Jesus while rejecting those parts of the social order that were not compatible with the message and teachings of Jesus. Remember, in the culture of the day, the only difference between a slave and a wife was that a slave was viewed as property. The only difference between a slave and a wife was that the wife was viewed as being capable of making moral decisions.

You see, unlike the caricature that our culture paints of Christianity as being a male chauvinistic religious system, Peter here, in his command to husbands, reveals the reality that Christianity is based on the assumption that both husbands and wives have a moral responsibility for their behavior that exceeded the social expectations of the day. Peter and the writers of the letters that make up the New Testament actually subverted cultural expectations of the day by elevating the responsibility that a husband had when it came to how he treated his wife in a way that elevated that wife to a position of unparalleled dignity in the culture of the day.

So Peter here is calling men who were followers of Jesus was to strive to develop a deepening awareness and understanding of their wives in a way that promoted the spiritual good, growth, and flourishing of their wives. Peter is concerned with the key question “Are followers of Jesus representing Jesus well? What is the reputation of followers of Jesus in the eyes of unbelievers?” And it is here, in this shift that Peter makes in this verse, that we discover a timeless truth about how we are to live in a rapidly changing culture as followers of Jesus in that living as part of God’s kingdom community should result in husbands representing Jesus well in marriage.

 And in 1 Peter 3:7, we see Peter reveal for us two ways that living as part of God’s kingdom community should result in husbands representing Jesus well in marriage.  First, we see that husbands represent Jesus well in marriage when they live they live in a way that demonstrates an awareness of where their wives are at in their lives. Husbands demonstrate a respect for their wives by exercising an awareness of where their wives are at when it comes to having a relationship with God.

And husbands demonstrate a respect for their wives by exercising an awareness of how their wives have been wired by God. Husbands are to exercise an awareness that their wives have been wired differently physically and are to treat them accordingly in a way that results in the spiritual good, growth, and flourishing. And husbands are to exercise an awareness that their wives have been wired differently emotionally and are to treat them accordingly in a way that results in the spiritual good, growth, and flourishing.

Friday, we will see Peter reveal a second way that husbands represent Jesus well in marriage…

Friday, September 8, 2017

Wives representing Jesus well in marriage by following positive examples of the past...


This week we have been looking at a section of a letter that is recorded for us in the New Testament of the Bible called the book of 1 Peter. In 1 Peter 3:1-6, we see Peter reveal for us the reality that living as part of God’s kingdom community should result in wives representing Jesus well in marriage. In 1 Peter 3:1-6, we see Peter reveal for us ways that wives represent Jesus well in marriage.

First, in 1 Peter 3:1-2, we see that wives represent Jesus well in marriage when they respect their husbands in a way that results in a win for God's kingdom community. Wives respect their husbands in a way that results in a win for God's kingdom community by exercising wisdom in their conversations about the kingdom. Knowing and living in the tension of when to speak through words and when to speak with actions requires wisdom. And when that wisdom is exercised, the result is a win for God’s kingdom community.

In addition, wives respect their husbands in a way that results in a win for God's kingdom community by exercising a lifestyle that reflects the kingdom in their relationship with their husbands.  As part of God’s kingdom community, wives are to exercise a lifestyle that is marked by a purity and a respect for Jesus that results in behavior that represents Jesus well and that is readily observable to their husbands who are not a part of the kingdom community.

Then, in 1 Peter 3:3-4, we see Peter reveal for us the reality that wives represent Jesus well in marriage when they live in a way that brings honor to Jesus and their husbands. Wives bring honor to Jesus and their husband by rejecting the beauty that comes from a life that is marked by a sense of self importance.

Instead of living in a way that is overly impressed by a sense of self importance and in drawing attention to oneself in a way that could draw the suspicion of the community, wives bring honor to Jesus and their husbands by embracing the beauty that comes from a life that is marked by an inward transformation. An inward transformation that produces a life that is not overly impressed by a sense of one's self importance and a well ordered disposition and temperament that produces a life that is of great value and worth in the sight of God and that brings honor to their husband. Peter then reveals a third reason why living as part of God’s kingdom community should result in wives representing Jesus well in marriage in 1 Peter 3:5-6. Let’s look at it together:

 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

Here we see Peter call the readers of his letter to follow the example of women who represented Jesus well in marriage by living in a way that brought honor to God and their husbands. You see, Peter wanted the readers of his letter to clearly see that there were women throughout history who lived out their day to day lives in a way that was set apart to God and that placed their hope and trust in God so as to live in obedience to God. Peter wanted the readers of his letter to clearly see that there were women throughout history who lived out their day to day lives in a way represented God well and brought honor to their husbands.

Peter wanted to point the readers of his letter to the godly examples of women willingly placed themselves under their husbands by placing their husbands first.  And to do that, Peter pointed the readers of his letter, and followers of Jesus throughout history, to the example of Sarah and her husband Abraham.

Now if you grew up in church or are somewhat familiar with the letters that make up the Bible, Abraham and Sarah would not seem like a great first choice. After all, Sarah responded to God’s promise of a child by impatiently trying to help God out by having Abraham marry and have sex with her servant. And then after the servant became pregnant and had a child, Sarah yelled at Abraham. That does not sound like a great example of representing God well in a marriage. So why would Peter specifically point out Sarah as an example to follow?

Peter gives us a hint as to why when he uses the phrase “you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” Peter is pointing the readers of his letter to two events from history that are preserved and recorded for us in a section of the very first letter in the Bible, called the book of Genesis. In Genesis 12 and Genesis 20, Abraham asked his wife Sarah to tell people around them that she was his sister and not his wife. In Genesis 12, it was the Pharaoh. In Genesis 20 it was a powerful king named Abimelech.

In both cases, Abraham and Sarah were temporarily residing in a culture that was dominated by beliefs that ran contrary to the life that God called them to live. And as a result of living in a culture that was radically different than their own and that was radically opposed to their own, both Abraham and Sarah were afraid of suffering difficulties and even death. And because of the fear of being put to death so that they could have his wife, Abraham hatched a scheme by which they would say that Sarah was his sister.

Now it is important to understand that Peter does not point the readers of his letter to Abraham and Sarah because he agreed with Abraham’s scheme. Instead, Peter pointed the readers of his letter to Abraham and Sarah because of Sarah’s response in the face of fear. In both cases, Sarah responded by willingly placing herself under Abraham’s leadership by placing Abraham first in the face of fear.

Instead of smacking Abraham upside the head for his ridiculous idea; instead of responding to fear with hatred and hostility to her husband who definitely was not trusting in God, but in his own ridiculous plan, Sarah responded by doing the right thing. You see, Peter pointed women throughout history to Sarah because Sarah responded to a husband who was not trusting in God by doing what was right without treating him with hatred and hostility.

Peter’s point is that wives who follow Jesus follow the example of Sarah when they do what is right and do not give way to the kind of fear that results in hatred and hostility in their relationship. Peter here is calling wives who are followers of Jesus and who are married to men who are not followers of Jesus to not despise and reject their husbands in a way that makes the climate at home one of hostility. Instead, Peter is calling wives who are followers of Jesus and who are married to men who are not followers of Jesus to willingly place themselves under their husbands leadership, even if that husband mocks and marginalizes their faith.

Now, Peter is not saying that wives should remain in a marriage that is marked by abuse, either, physical or emotional.  Peter is addressing wives who have become followers of Jesus while their husbands have not and who have difficulty not with how they are treating their wives, but with the new found faith of their wives. Peter’s concern was that the behavior of a wife who was a follower of Jesus in such a circumstance would be an apologetic for the claims of Christ and the message of the gospel.

And it is here that we see Peter reveal for us the reality that wives represent Jesus well in marriage when they live in a way that follows the positive examples of the past. As part of God’s kingdom community, wives have the positive examples of women who lived a life that brought honor to Jesus and their husbands.

These wives brought honor to Jesus and their husbands by living in a way that was set apart as distinctly different. These wives brought honor to Jesus and their husbands as a result of their confidence trust in God. These wives brought honor to Jesus and their husbands by respecting their husbands. These wives brought honor to Jesus and their husbands by placing themselves under the leadership her husband in the face of fear. These wives brought honor to Jesus and their husbands by doing what was right and by not giving in to the kind of fear that results in hatred and hostility in the home.

Once again, Peter was concerned with the key question “Are followers of Jesus representing Jesus well? What is the reputation of followers of Jesus in the eyes of unbelievers?” And for Peter, living as part of God’s kingdom community should result in wives representing Jesus well in marriage.

As part of God’s kingdom community, wives represent Jesus well in marriage when they respect their husbands in a way that results in a win for God's kingdom community. As part of God’s kingdom community, wives represent Jesus well in marriage when they live in a way that brings honor to Jesus and their husbands. And as part of God’s kingdom community, Wives represent Jesus well in marriage when they live in a way that follows the positive examples of the past.

So with that in mind, ladies here is a question to consider: Are you representing Jesus well in your marriage? Do you respond to any mocking or criticism of Christianity by your husband’s with hatred and hostility? Or do you respond to any mocking or criticism of Christianity by respecting your husband’s in a way that results in a win for God's kingdom community?

Do you respond to any mocking or criticism of Christianity by living in a way that brings honor to Jesus and their husbands?  Do you respond to any mocking or criticism of Christianity by following the positive examples of women in the past?

Because, the timeless reality is that living as part of God’s kingdom community should result in wives representing Jesus well in marriage...

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Representing Jesus well by bringing honor to husbands...


This week, we are looking at a section of a letter that is recorded for us in the New Testament of the Bible called the book of 1 Peter. In 1 Peter 3:1-6, Peter is addressing how followers of Jesus, as a result of their new identity as part of God’s Kingdom community, were to operate within the culture’s most basic social unit, the home. Peter is addressing how a woman who was a follower of Jesus was to conduct herself in the situation where she was married to a man who was not a follower of Jesus.

Peter’s concern was that the behavior of a wife who was a follower of Jesus would be an apologetic for the claims of Christ and the message of the gospel to the husband who was not a follower of Jesus. Peter recognized that as these early followers of Jesus lived as citizens of God’s kingdom community, that they would be watched closely by those around them as they lived distinctively different lives than those in the community around them. And nowhere would that dynamic be more evident than in relationship between a husband and a wife.

Peter recognized that husbands would be closely watching the behavior of their wives. And as husbands watched their wives conduct their lives according to the message and teachings of Jesus, there would be an exposure to the impact that the claims of Christ and the message of the gospel would have as theses wives lived out their lives in a way that revealed and reflected Jesus.

Peter is concerned with the key question “Are followers of Jesus representing Jesus well? What is the reputation of followers of Jesus in the eyes of unbelievers?” And it is here, that we discover the timeless truth that living as part of God’s kingdom community should result in wives representing Jesus well in marriage.

Yesterday, we saw that wives represent Jesus well in marriage when they respect their husbands in a way that results in a win for God's kingdom community. Wives respect their husbands in a way that results in a win for God's kingdom community by exercising wisdom in their conversations about the kingdom. In addition, wives respect their husbands in a way that results in a win for God's kingdom community by exercising a lifestyle that reflects the kingdom in their relationship with their husbands. 

Today, we will see Peter reveal a second reason why living as part of God’s kingdom community should result in wives representing Jesus well in marriage in 1 Peter 3:3-4:

 Your adornment must not be merely external-- braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

Again, to fully understand what Peter is communicating in these verses, we need to understand the context and the culture in which Peter was making these statements. Now, in the Greco Roman culture of the first century, it was not unusual for people to worship a multitude of gods. As a matter of fact, what made Christianity distinctly different was the reality that early followers of Jesus refused to worship more than one God. And because of the polytheistic nature of the culture of the day, a husband would usually not have a problem with his wife going to worship a God without him.

In addition, in the Greco-Roman culture of the day, the prevailing belief was that a woman beautified the world around her by the daily practice of the virtues. Aristotle famously stated “A woman’s self control in all that she does and her inclination toward an honorable and well ordered life with patience and gentleness are her true beauty”. Conversely, in the culture of the day, outward adornments were often perceived as instruments of seduction and a woman’s use of cosmetics was viewed as an attempt to deceive.

Of course, both outward adornments and cosmetics were unnecessary if a woman stayed at home. However, in this case, the wife was going out in public without her husband, to another home. So if a woman in the Greco Roman culture of the first century was seen without her husband in the community dressed up in fancy clothes, with all kinds of bling on, and with her face all hooked up with makeup, the culture would view the woman to be engaged in questionable or shady behavior that would shame both the husband and the wife. However, if a woman who was a follower of Jesus went to worship without her husband who did not believe, by leaving her home unadorned, her intent to attend worship and not to engage in questionable or shady behavior would be all the more clear.

You see, Peter is not commanding woman to dress unattractively and to reject wearing jewelry or makeup. That is not Peter’s point here. Again, Peter was concerned with the key question “Are followers of Jesus representing Jesus well? What is the reputation of followers of Jesus in the eyes of unbelievers?” And that reputation, according to Peter, was not to be jeopardized by doing something that would be viewed by the culture with suspicion.

Instead of braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses, which would be fine when accompanied by their husbands in public, but would be viewed in a questionable or shady way when not with their husbands, Peter explained that the wives were to demonstrate an adornment of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. Peter was concerned that the behavior of wives in public, without the accompaniment of their husbands, would demonstrate the moral character of a gentle and quiet spirit.

What is so interesting is that the word gentle here, in the language that this letter was originally written in, literally means to not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self importance. In addition, the word quiet conveys the sense of a well ordered disposition or temperament. Peter here is revealing for us the reality that what is precious in God’s sight is a wife who conducts herself in the public arena apart from her husband in a way that is marked by well ordered disposition or temperament that is not overly impressed with themselves or that draws attention to themselves in a way that would lead people to believe that something questionable or shady was going on.

Peter wanted to make sure that the wife who was a follower of Jesus would honor her husband by honoring a cultural convention of the day in a way that would represent Jesus well. And it is here that we see Peter reveal for us the reality that wives represent Jesus well in marriage when they live in a way that brings honor to Jesus and their husbands. Wives bring honor to Jesus and their husband by rejecting the beauty that comes from a life that is marked by a sense of self importance.

You see, just as it was in Peter’s day, a life that is marked by self importance will draw attention in the community a way that could bring suspicion by the community and dishonor to the husband. Instead of living in a way that is overly impressed by a sense of self importance and in drawing attention to oneself in a way that could draw the suspicion of the community, wives bring honor to Jesus and their husbands by embracing the beauty that comes from a life that is marked by an inward transformation.

An inward transformation that produces a life that is not overly impressed by a sense of one's self importance and a well ordered disposition and temperament that produces a life that is of great value and worth in the sight of God and that brings honor to their husband. Peter then reveals a third reason why living as part of God’s kingdom community should result in wives representing Jesus well in marriage in verse 5-6.
 
We will discover that reason on Friday...