Monday, November 26, 2018

Devotional: Gospel Relationships With Unbelievers, 1 Peter 2:11-25

Outline 1 Peter 2.11-25

So far  Peter has shown us that offering ourselves to Jesus means living out the gospel as Jesus did and growing into what Jesus has saved us to be. Now in 2:11-3:12 he will show us what this means for our relationships with the people around us. The bottom line in all of our relationships is that we should live in a way that draws others to Christ. (2:11-12) The supreme example of this is Jesus, who submitted himself to suffering and persecution without retaliation in order to secure our salvation. In 2:11-25 Peter explains how this affects our relationship with unbelievers and in 3:1-12 he explains how it should affect relationships in the church and in our homes. The key word governing all these relationships is “submission.” This means that we live compassionately, humbly, and in harmony with one another, trusting God’s care, protection and provision to take care of our personal interests. Our lives should always be lived in a way that draws people to Christ no matter how they treat us.

The central section (2:21-25) points to Jesus as the primary example of how to live in relationships and is bracketed by a section on our relationships with secular authorities (2:13-20) and by a section on relationships with believers (3:1-9). The ultimate example of an exemplary life that draws people to God is Jesus. He responded to persecution, insults, and suffering without retaliation. In doing so he defeated the forces of evil and opened the way of salvation and entrance to God. This is how God works. He does not work through violence or revolution which merely replaces one oppressor with another, but calls us to live peaceful, productive lives of service in the face of mistreatment and persecution. Just as God defeated the powers of evil by Jesus giving himself over to death, he will give us victory as we repay evil with love.

Peter gives two examples of how we respond to tyranny and persecution in verses 13-20. He urges Christians to respond to Roman authorities and slave masters with proper honor, obedience and submission. Here he is dealing with terrible situations in which there seems to be no solution. His point is that, even in these situations, God will work within this kind of suffering to save the world as he did through the suffering of Jesus. (2:24) This is the way the kingdom of God changes the kingdoms of this world. We can be sure that when we are in this type of situation that God will use our peaceful, loving responses to our persecutors in the same way he used Jesus’ response. And it does work. This is how the Roman empire was “Christianized” in less than 300 years.

So, if you are in a difficult situation from which there seems to be no escape, take courage and respond with love. God is able to protect you and, even if the worst happens, to take your good behavior and use it to change the world. He might even use it to save the one who is persecuting you.

No comments: