June 28, 2020

Peter’s Letter: “From Profligacy to Doxology"

Scripture Reading: I Peter 4:1-11

Our text for today calls us from “Profligacy” to “Doxology”.

Last week we learned that human beings need a unifying story around which to rally. As followers of Jesus Christ we have that Story. In an age of uncertainty, violence, racism, and the like, the Church needs a “prophetic voice” to announce the gospel by which we understand life. Only then will we not be anxious about things as they are. The gospel from this letter is stated in I Peter 1:3 which says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Our salvation is not dependent upon what we have done or earned. The gospel is always about what Christ has done and earned for us. We are saved by grace, through faith in him.

This is the basis upon which we now hear I Peter 4:1-11. It’s one thing to have a gospel that centers us in the grace of God. We need also a focus on where to live out this gospel. The Christian religion must translate into a worldview that puts the gospel into play in all the issues and work being done in the world today. In Christ we live life and see life from the perspective of the Kingdom of God. Therefore:

The unifying Story of us all is the Gospel.
The place where we live it out is the Kingdom of God (which has come to this world!).

Questions:

Is it possible to be “done with sin” as the apostle says in I Peter 4:1?
What does Paul say about this in Romans 6:6-7?

We are called from one way of living to another. On the basis of this text we could say we are called from “Profligacy” (verses 3-4) to “Doxology” (verse 11). Profligacy means to be careless, wasteful, or given over to shameless and immoral behavior. Peter is saying the world is surprised we do not rush with them into immorality. In the Roman empire (as it is today) immorality was rampant and promoted as fun and normal. However, we are called to Doxology which means to praise God and to do this through our daily living.

As Christians we do not give up our love and passion for good things that are a blessing from the Lord. What we are to be done with are such behaviors as listed in verse 3, “For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do – living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.”

Question:

Why should we not treat verse 3 as an exhaustive list of the things we ought to avoid in order to make ourselves perfect?

In all of our various callings we must have the Kingdom of God as our focus and goal. Kingdom living leads to doxology which means it brings praise and glory to our Lord and God. Our lives in this world are not an exercise in futility but in doxology in so far as we have God and his Kingdom in our view. In order to do this there are four things we are told in verses 7-9 which are part of the Christian’s life. They are:

1. Prayer,
2. Mutual Love,
3. Hospitality
4. The exercise of Spiritual Gifts

Question:

How can you work these four things out in your Kingdom living?

When the gospel defines us and gives us our identity, when the Kingdom of God is the focus of our lives, then the God is glorified in his Church on earth.

Our daily living will be a prophetic call for truth, justice, reconciliation, and grace. We will not be perfect in this calling. The apostle is not bringing us to an easy task, but the move from profligacy to doxology is a necessary move in the life of every follower of Christ. If you accept this letter from Peter as the authoritative Word of God, then the calling is clear and the challenge is great. But remember, we rest in the God who works in us to will and to act according to his good purpose. Amen.