Hello everyone, my name is James and welcome to Thursdays podcast. Today our passage is 1 Peter 2:11-25. Today and tomorrow we are looking at the rest of 1 Peter chapter 2 and the start of chapter 3.
Before he gets to the nitty gritty… Peter needs us to remember we are called by God.
We do right to remember verse 9 from yesterday… it sets the scene again for today and tomorrow, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
Before we start to think about our topic for the next two days together, “how do we live as a Christian in todays world?” We need to answer the question, “Are we a Christian?”… “have we been called?”
Now looking at this letter this way, we are going to focus on the two aspects included in our verses today that talk about living Christianly towards government and workplace. In many ways, this letter connects us with Christianity’s origins story. We need to remember this is not just an intellectual exercise. These are real people, in a real part of the world at a real time in history. These are our forefathers and mothers of the faith. And they are living under the Roman Empire. Facing hostility and harassment. To make a connection to the present day (that I’ll admit is not perfect but helpful) – it feels like we are under the rule of something right now… A different kind of global empire, this disease called COVID-19, and in many ways this thing over us does not bless us but opposes us. But it was in those environments and those limitations that the Jesus movement grew. And in an age when many people thought that Christianity’s best days lied in its past… It’s looking like its best days could be on the horizon. We started another Alpha course this week, and it was great to meet more people out there who are beginning to hear the sound of the phone ringing… that God might just be calling them and they want to explore it.
We submit to authority. Even if it is unjust? Yes, show respect and honour because violence solves nothing and it betrays the way of Jesus who loved his enemies. Jesus did not preach violence. He came at oppression with the opposite spirit. Teaching us to love our enemies. Loving those who seek to do us harm.
I realise that I’m writing these words in a week where thousands have taken to the streets across the world to protest governments. To express outrage. To stand in solidarity. To speak out and take action against oppressive systems. I was one of them and I stand by it. I did so safely and non-violently I hasten to add. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve really wrestled this week with how to talk on this scripture in light of the present day. How do we take responsibility as a followers of Jesus to live under governments and those in authority over us? These 2000 year old words feels very relevant right now. If you are sitting with a Bible open in front of you – you will see verse 18 uses the example of how slaves should relate to their masters and we will hear the whole text after this reflection. This is hard to read. Now I’ve decided not to make that the focus of todays reflection because the verses are not the focus. We’ve already established in chapters 1 that earthly masters are not the real masters, Jesus is. That said, it is there. Peter, the writer, is a realist, the church isn’t made up exclusively of the wealthy and the powerful in that culture. It was a new kind of community that spanned the breath of society (and still should! where else can you find unity in diversity than in the church!) We must keep working hard at this! That said, Peter was right to write to encourage those who are coming to a living faith in Jesus yet find themselves in slavery.
Here is what I am learning from these Bible verses today and the times we are in. Submitting is not about passivity and silence – as we are often so quick to imagine. Submitting is not about passivity and silence. That is equally not the way of Jesus as violent revolution. For any students listening, submitting is like turning in a paper. We must work hard to observe, reflect, discuss and also to plan a way forward together and hold each other to account for that plan. As is our practise at STC. We must be here what God is saying and we must do something about it.
Our actions do not save us. But how we act empowers our words of truth and hope.
God thank you that we have heard or that we are starting to hear you calling. Come and fill us again with your Holy Spirit, Lord Jesus. We pray you would help us to understand the Bible and how we might live as people of light in the world today. In Jesus name. Amen.
BIBLE READING: 1 Peter 2:13-25 (NIV)
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honour the emperor.
Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
‘He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.’
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’ For ‘you were like sheep going astray,’ but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.