Silent Heroes

21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. 1 Peter 2:21-25

You’ve seen the interviews with WWII war heroes. To a man, they always say, if you can get them to say anything at all about themselves, “I just did what anyone else would have done.” These were very young men, ahead of the prime of their lives, who deep down had what it took to instinctively sacrifice and suffer for their country. You’re not seeing that profile much these days. In fact, many who serve their country or cities in uniform are maligned and ridiculed.

Selfishness has pretty much replaced selflessness. Evil seems unharnessed by even common courtesy. On social media, the unhinged and unrestrained rail against anything good, or the idea of anything good. There’s a lot of vicious fighting going on against mankind, or should I say, people-kind. And kindness has no role in it!

It is into this moral morass we are called to follow in Christ’s footsteps. He walked in a society much like ours, spoke the truth, and suffered dearly for it. Here we are urged to take what comes without sinning, without lashing out.

As things continue to heat up, and even mild association with Christianity becomes reason for public scorn, more and more we’ll have to keep entrusting ourselves to him who judges righteously, the “Shepherd and Guardian of our souls,” if we too want to “die to sin and live to righteousness,” and follow in his footsteps.

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Model Employees

18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.
19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.
20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.

1 Peter 2:18-20

Not only do we submit to government for the purposes of silencing the ignorance of foolish men, but also to unreasonable bosses for whom we may work. It’s rare to toil under a great boss in a great company. Those stars don’t normally align. You’ll probably have a cruel taskmaster in a good company or a reasonable but likely feckless supervisor in a bad company, and more often than not, a heartless “master” in a soulless organization.

Despite these conditions we are to bear up and serve as unto the Lord, which will make it possible under the direst of circumstances to muster up respect for the person over you and his or her position. You’ve got to see through the demands and the abuse to focus on Christ, standing with arms folded, nodding his head in approval, for a job well done.

It’s interesting that the slackers and complainers who may come under the thumb of a harsh overseer are not cut any slack here. You never want to appeal to God, other than for mercy, for something you’ve got yourself into due to insubordination, laziness or sloppiness. In these cases, you’re going to have to suffer the consequences (Col. 3:25).

Our Boss wants our consciences clear, which will make it possible to patiently endure hardship, and to know without question, that through it all, He’s got our back.

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Model Citizens

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond slaves of God. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

1 Peter 2:13-17

Of all people, Christians should be model citizens. We are for the Lord’s sake. We are because it’s his will. You’d think he’d want us to be rebels with a cause, but he wants us to submit to every human institution, from the king on down to the beat cop. They’re in place by his hand to punish evildoers and to praise those who do right.

This may be easy if you voted for the king, but that’s going to be a rare case if you know anything about history. In fact, it’s really unusual if you’re not oppressed in some way by the authorities that be.

Nonetheless, we’re to use the freedom we have to do right. This is the only way God says we can silence the ignorance of foolish men. I always thought we needed to rant and rave, or at least write our congressman.

Whatever the case, we’re to act as free men, even though we might not be. Never should we abuse our freedom to cloak evil. If we honor all people, love our brothers and sisters in Christ–we’re in this together!–and honor the king, we’re doing God’s will.

I know I left out fearing God, but to make a point. We honor the king, but fear God. There’s a big difference there, and our  only reason to get sideways with the law.

“We must obey God rather than men,” said Peter, when called out to quit preaching Jesus. (Acts 5:29)

They say there is an exception to every rule.

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Rock the World

11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:11-12

It must be possible as born again people to be lured by and act out on the lusts of the flesh. I’m just stating the obvious in this verse, having tested this hypothesis practically “in the field,” as they say.

How do we walk the straight and narrow as aliens and strangers? By walking the straight and narrow. Easier said than done.

It takes willpower to abstain from fleshly lusts, but the source of this power can’t be ours, or we’ll eventually fail. It has to be from God.

Recognize that the old manner of life has been crucified with Christ on the cross (Gal. 2:20, Rom. 6:6). His spirit then empowers us to make no provision for these lusts to gain a foothold (Ro. 13:14). These are the daily skirmishes that must be won to walk by the spirit (Gal 5:16).

But what awaits the believer walking by the power of the spirit? The same fate that met Jesus. Despite our good deeds, that are spawned by a life unfettered by constant backsliding, we will be slandered. This fact is also obvious here. But how we react will be witnessed by others, and the love and sincerity that is hopefully demonstrated will be undeniable, because of the circumstances.

Like Jesus bearing up on under the anguish of the cross, they will give glory to God as they see us bear up, just as the centurion did when the earth shook (Matt. 15:39, Luke 23:47).

By the way, our actions in response to the prodding of the spirit will also rock the world, at least somebody’s!

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Greater Grace

…God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:5-7

You know, when you insist on doing things your own way, taking matters into your own hands, at that point you’re refusing the grace of God. Pure and simple. In actuality, you stand opposed to God, and that, believe me, is not where you want to be. If you don’t believe me, read this “in all caps”: GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Now this is not because God is yelling at us, but a quote from Psalm 3:34, which also shows up verbatim in James 4:6. James knew firsthand about opposing God, since he had to stand face-to-face with his resurrected half brother Jesus to submit to God’s sovereign rule. Only then did he receive God’s “greater grace.”

In verses 6 and 7, Peter proceeds with the process. “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God.” This step is similar to Solomon’s advice, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) It’s imperative to submit to the will of God, hopefully before you’re at your wit’s end. Sadly, this normally does not happen until you’re at the end of your rope.

I vote for 1 Peter 5:6-7 as everyone’s best choice for a “life verse.” I know it’s been mine for years. This requires “casting all your anxiety upon him.” This does not mean to keep worrying about everything until you throw your hands up, but to once and for all, deposit all your cares in his bank. Trust him, they’ll be safe with him! For once, you’ll earn compounding interest, that his “greater grace.”

It’s much easier to subject yourself to the mighty hand if God when you know he’ll be paying out these kinds of dividends!

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The Passion of the Christ

6 For this is contained in Scripture: “Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious cornerstone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
7 This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve,
“The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very cornerstone,”
8 and, “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.
1 Peter 2:6-8

There’s never been a more vivid portrayal of Christ’s crucifixion than in the movie The Passion of the Christ. I would say vivid is a weak description, and gut-wrenching, gruesome and gory better. Mel Gibson could not have made the movie more, well, realistic.

The dichotomy of belief and disbelief was masterfully depicted. In a matter of a few days from the triumphant entry of the King on a donkey, the disbelieving rulers, scribes, Pharisees and people suffered a slow-motion stumble that would doom them to hell (yes this is a real place!). What really happened was that God was in the process of laying the cornerstone of a new “chosen race” and “royal priesthood,” founded on the blood of Jesus. Those who saw the precious value of this man who briefly walked this earth would not be disappointed.

While it appeared tragically and suddenly over, death was conquered for all who believed, and would believe in generations to come. And don’t miss the correlation between obedience and belief, and disobedience and disbelief. What was contested was the word of God, as it still is today. Here Peter quotes Old Testament scripture to make his case.

The leaders and the people knew the truth but defied it and denied it. Their disbelief had grave consequences, but not for Jesus, and not for those who kept the faith.

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It’s Only Logical

4 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5

Using logic alone we understand we have two choices. To accept or reject Jesus, the living stone. If we reject him, we reject God’s choice, who is precious in his sight.

Now if we accept him, we too are living stones, and we too could be–likely will be–rejected by men.

Now if God chose Jesus to be a living stone–the cornerstone–it stands to reason he also chose us–a mystery–an indication that we too, are precious in his sight.

Now our highest and best use is not to remain a stone unto ourselves, but to be used in erecting a spiritual house, for the sole purpose of offering up spiritual sacrifices. Another thing to remember, and to be thankful for, is that we are living stones, not dead ones.

Now, if we offer up spiritual sacrifices, in someway the spirit must spawn them. They can’t be acts motivated by our selfish wills. For example, an acceptable sacrifice was a spotless lamb. So we offer these spirit-driven acts to God, who finds them acceptable, making acts with ulterior motives simply unacceptable. There’s always a sweet aroma emanating from God’s house, to his praise and glory. Therefore, it must be our primary job here on earth to generate and offer up acceptable sacrifices.

Practically, we must ask ourselves, was the work I accomplished today acceptable? We’re my interactions with people acceptable? Was my attitude, that only God can really see, acceptable? Did I love someone unlovable today? Did I hope against hope for anything, just because my hope is in him? Most importantly, did I stop throughout the day to offer up praise to him?

You know, if we’re all about the holy priesthood, we can’t help but stand out, and by our actions we’re constantly presenting those around us with a choice–an opportunity to join in. It’s only logical.

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