June 7, 2020

Peter's Letter: "Under Authority yet Free"

Scripture Reading: I Peter 2:13 to 3:12 (Text – I Peter 3:8-9)

Within the longer reading of I Peter 2:13 to 3:12, the apostle is turning our attention to a practical application of the gospel to daily life. He is speaking about relationships within the Christian household and in society as a whole. When you read through what the apostle says within the longer reading from Chapter 2 into Chapter 3, the message from Peter might sound inappropriate and maybe even offensive in light of our present circumstances.

It’s been a hard week around the world. Anger, violence, destruction of property, and theft have been unleashed in many places, particularly our cities. Not only are we dealing with the frustration and pain associated with the global pandemic caused by Covid-19, the injustice within our systems of power are again laid bare. It is adding to the pain of many people. The world is not as it’s supposed to be. We live in a broken world. The hurting is real and should not be dismissed. The results are seen in what we now witness around the world. So how do we respond as a Christian community? How does the church react to what we see all around us without sounding condescending, simplistic, or judgmental?

Questions:

What are the two extremes we should avoid when understanding Scripture?
What is “Fundamentalism”? How would it read Peter’s letter?
What is the danger of rejecting any part of the Word of God as “out of date”?

At the root of our calling to be God’s people in a time such as our own, there is a word that goes against the grain of everything the world is saying to us: “submit”. Looking at this word in its original language Scott McKnight correctly defines submission as “to order oneself under, or according to, a given relationship.”

As a gospel word this is about being in rhythm with God, not giving ourselves over to the abusive systems of power that dehumanize us or others. Submission in this letter is always with the understanding that we as Christians submit ourselves under God for obedience to him.

Question:

How might understanding that we “submit” to the rule of God in the Kingdom of God help us understand how to apply love, grace, and truth to all our relationships within the family and society?

The goal of this section within Peter’s letter is summarized in Chapter 3:8-9 where he says, “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” That’s it: the goal is “Blessing”.

Questions:

What is a “blessing”?
How can the Church be a blessing to the world?

Take a look at Article 2 of the Belgic Confession which speaks of knowing God.

We know God by two means:
First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures,
great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God: God’s eternal power and divinity, as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20.
All these things are enough to convict humans and to leave them without excuse.
Second, God makes himself known to us more clearly by his holy and divine Word, as much as we need in this life, for God’s glory and for our salvation.