1 Peter Part 13
“Finally, all of you”
1 Peter 2:13-3:12
AUDIO FOR THIS SERMON CAN BE FOUND HERE
3:8 – Finally, all of you
The United States is a nation built upon Rights.
From the advent of the Magna Carta in 1215 – Signed by King John in Great Britain, down to our own Declaration of Independence from British rule – personal and human rights have been at the center of how we think about ourselves in relationship to governments, institutions, businesses, and even in personal relationships.
Peter’s letter finds its way to its first audience with mixed realities regarding rights – especially those of the individual toward the then ruling power of Rome.
No doubt those Jewish Christians who were exiled from Rome in AD 49 when the Emperor Claudius expelled all the Jews – were Peter’s main audience.
Sometimes in these expulsions, the Emperor would create little colonies of the exiles, giving them at the same time some Roman “rights” and even in some cases full Roman Citizenship.
But as imposed foreign transplants – there due to religious persecution – the locals looked on them with suspicion and hostility on both fronts. Both the political imposition AND their unique religious identity as Believing Jews.
They were truly people without a country or a people, in place where they would be consistently harassed by their neighbors on several fronts. Elect Exiles as per 1:1
How were they to live? Peter writes to tell them.
It is no wonder then that one writer noted that in former Yugoslavia and Muslim Indonesia, 1 Peter is the most popular book among Christians.
And I believe it is an essential book for American Christians to ground themselves in as we see the tide of public and even government opinion edging us ever closer to a similar circumstance in this nation.
Peter’s first readers could no doubt, in some instances try to stand on their “rights.”
And that may be our first response as well.
But Peter is interested in teaching them about something much higher than their (or our) “rights” in society.
He wants them to begin to live above human rights, and to live instead in Divine Privilege.
And that, is a horse of such a completely different color, as to maybe not even be a horse at all!
As Scott McKnight writes: “Peter intends his readers to understand who they are before God so that they can be who they are in society.”
As you might suspect by the word “FINALLY”, Peter is about to summarize his points thus far in this letter.
By addressing “all of you” – he is moving from the particular applications we’ve seen so far:
How the Believer relates to and interacts with hostile secular government and leaders –
How the Believer relates to and interacts with hostile secular masters or employers –
How the Believer relates to and interacts with a hostile unbelieving spouse –
How the Believer relates to and interacts with a believing spouse –
All in the context of being both God’s elect people – and citizens of Christ’s Kingdom, while also being exiles due to religious persecution as part of this fallen world and its institutions.
Suffering by Believers in this fallen world is to be expected, and not viewed as something irregular or inexplicable.
Peter is one with his Master Jesus in this: John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Jesus told His disciples – and by extension, Believers in every age – that our peace is to be found in Him – in being reconciled to the Father by Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice.
And also, that having changed sides in the cosmic conflict, we will now suffer tribulation in this world.
But not to capitulate to the World – because He has overcome it – and is leading us to live as He did! Above the world and its so-called “rights”.
The summary statement Peter builds this next section on is found in vs. 9 “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”
This is the main concept he has been driving at thus far.
The world lives on rights. The Christian, as a citizen of the Kingdom, lives more on his or her divine privileges in Christ – than rights.
The idea here is: For the sake of manifesting Christ’s kingdom in this present age, do not stand on your rights, but take up the privilege of living as an agent of Christ right now, in the presence of this dark and fallen world.
So the instructions is NOT:
1. Just grit your teeth and bear it.
2. Just be the bigger person. Condescending.
3. It is – and this is ESSENTIAL – for the sake of manifesting the life of Christ right here and now, respond not only in a lack of retaliation or retort, but actually BLESS the other.
Do that which is making evident the Spirit of Christ right in the very midst of evil – whether they perceive it as such or not.
BECAUSE – you were called to suffer like this, and to respond like this, that you may also obtain the blessing that comes from God alone.
To act this way not for the sake of manipulation, but solely because this is what our Heavenly Father has called us to. THIS, is living in stupendous privilege.
To do it with Worldly Governments.
With Worldly employers.
If in such a circumstance, with an Unbelieving Spouse.
And in the home with a Believing spouse.
In the Church and everywhere else.
Now, to respond in KIND to hostility of any sort, is NATURAL.
We have no better examples of this than in the famed antagonism between Winston Churchill & Lady Astor
At one gathering, Lady Astor, bugged (as she seemed to perpetually be) by Churchill remarked: “Winston, you are very drunk.”
To which he promptly retorted: “And you are very ugly, but in the morning, I will sober!”
At another gathering, Lady Astor was heard to say to Churchill: “If you were my husband, I should poison your coffee!”
To which he replied: “And if I were your husband, I would drink it!”
We laugh at those and even find a certain sense of satisfaction in the cleverness and the fittingness of those exchanges.
No one got hurt. And, as we just noted – it is NATURAL.
But then there are those who even when insulted, just let it bounce off and offer no reply.
And, to refrain from a negative response is NOBLE.
But Peter takes us to a much higher place yet – to actually seek to BLESS in response. THIS, is nothing less than supernatural.
And again – not in the abstract – just to be “good people” – but to seize upon the opportunity to display the life and Spirit of Christ smack dab in the middle of the darkness that produces the hostility.
To do it intentionally as Citizens and Agents of Christ’s Kingdom, in a foreign land.
But Peter is also a realist. He knows not all of us will get to this place very quickly, and even then, there will be lapses no doubt.
And so we have his opening instruction in this portion:
Vs. 8 – “Finally, all of you”
1. Have unity of mind. It would seem here the unity of mind to be had is that which has been given above.
We know this is NOT absolute UNIFORMITY of thought in every case:
See: Rom. 14 / Eating meats & Sabbath keeping. 1 Cor. 8 – Food offered to idols. Mode of baptism, wine or grape juice, etc. etc.
As Christians, all of us need to have the same concept of God’s order and response to sinful treatment, for the cause of Christ in the world.
Or, as vs. 9 summarizes the entire portion: Do not repay evil for evil; nor reviling for reviling; but instead – bless – for in such a mindset, is contained your own blessing. Even as Ps. 34 says. BE OF THIS MIND – ALL OF YOU.
This is the unity of mind he is appealing to here.
2. Sympathy. While seeking that unity of perspective, do not fail to sympathize with those suffering.
Don’t throw out platitudes in suffering like “it’s the Lord’s will, so just endure” – SYMPATHIZE! And especially when they are struggling to truly grasp this extraordinary way of living.
After all – this is how Christ deals with us in our trials: Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
3. Brotherly love. Cultivate a deeper and connected concern for those who cannot navigate these waters of duality as easily as others.
In a family, no one gets left behind – but there is labor to help.
4. A Tender heart. A. Toward failing Christians in this regard – Those who fail need our compassion, not our censure. There is a difference between weakness and rebellion. We do not shoot our wounded, but help them back to safety to be restored, and then strengthened to fight another day.
Toward the persecutors, who are so bound in their sin that they resist the very manifestation of the Spirit of God among them, and are lost and in desperate need of a Savior!
A Humble Mind. A. OK – so YOU get it. Be grateful you’ve been given grace for it, and do not then wave it as though a personal accomplishment before others. Recognize grace.
Humble toward those still bound in their sins. You have not accomplished salvation – it was a gift bestowed upon you. Be humble in your interactions with your tormentors. If not for the grace of God, you would be doing the very same thing if not worse.
And WHY again is this to be our approach?
Because this is our CALLING!
1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
It is a high and holy calling. To live above the rights of this world, by living in the privileges of the Kingdom of Christ.
Which, as we have noted all along – can be done only as we rely on the indwelling Spirit of Christ – to live the righteousness of Christ out through us.
As George MacDonald so eloquently prayed:
Haste to me, Lord, when this fool-heart of mine
Begins to gnaw itself with selfish craving;
Or, like a foul thing scarcely worth the saving,
Swoln up with wrath, desireth vengeance fine.
Haste, Lord, to help, when reason favours wrong;
Haste when thy soul, the high-born thing divine,
Is torn by passion’s raving, maniac throng.
 Jobes, Karen H. 2005. 1 Peter. (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.