You will find that people in the pew have many different opinions but on one thing almost all agree. Folks are tired of the lack of civility, the inability of people to express their differences without disrespect and in many cases these days, out-right displays of hate in words spoken and actions taken. Seriously, we all need to take a step back and see what we are doing to each other and our nation. Of note there is the fact that this type of behavior is not confined to those not in the Christian community.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
As shown by these verses There are certain characteristics that make Christians different from others, traits that point to the fact we are his disciples. Here in these verses from 1 Peter are more of those behavior traits that mark a Christian life. Today’s blog looks at 1 Peter 3:8-15a. It would be helpful to read these verses and then return to the blog.
The Christian community is not immune to the current lack of Civility when addressing different opinions, beliefs or new directions. It seems this type of behavior has found a foothold within our community. Peter gives some great qualities for living a Christian life. He starts with the need for Unity. There are many great passages in the New Testament that encourage unity. We are divided as a community of faith by denominational beliefs, inner-denominational conflicts and in some cases a move to reinterpret scripture to meet the changing societal needs and trends. Even the Apostle Paul pleads for a unity of mind in the church. Throughout the NT there is this plea for unity. To some commentators and bible scholars it is more of a realization that people cannot live a Christian life unless in their personal relationships there is unity and the Church cannot meet its’ Christian call when there are divisions within it. The next being Sympathy. Again we are urged in NT writings to see this as a duty.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Just as evil cannot exist in the presence of our God, neither can selfishness exist where sympathy prevails. With Christ in our hearts sympathy will reign there. From here we move to Love. Peter sets out with what can be literally translated as brotherly love. The love we have for one another and Christian charity for others, all of God’s creation. Here again we see the indisputable fact that love of God requires love of others and also applies to the Church. Neither an individual or the Church can meet the reality of Christianity if they cannot love one another and their neighbors. Peter continues with a much-needed attribute in this world. Compassion……something we see less of in this day. In our books, movies, theater, social media and all this world of digital expression allows, we see a disturbing trend of insensitivity to adverse events in our daily lives. There can be no Christianity without compassion. The next attribute. Humility ……… We might measure up well against others but the real test for Christians is…..how well do we measure up to Christ? We know we can never obtain his sinless perfection. We must constantly remind ourselves of our utter dependence on our God. We must strive to be humble in his presence and in the presence of others. The last to share with you would be Forgiveness. We seek God’s forgiveness and it is our calling to extend forgiveness to others.
32 and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
We now go to verse 13 and the remaining verses in today’s scripture. To have written this passage (13-15a) we can tell by his words that although he does not quote directly the OT, it is obvious that his knowledge of it is firmly on his mind. From the very first of these verses Peter insists that you must have a passionate love for Goodness. It is when we seek the goodness of things in this life that the wrong things lose their pull on us. There are some things here that are a part of all people’s lives. Seeking to walk the walk, taking the good way does not exempt us from the human suffering that from time to time comes our way due to circumstances in our lives. Our humanity leaves us open to the trails of life. We can become absorbed with the importance of stuff, money and position. We depend on these things for our comfort and pleasure in this life. This places us in a very vulnerable position, scripture tells us that the things of this life are only temporary. There is then the fact that there can be hardships brought into our lives simply because Jesus Christ holds a unique place in our lives. None of us can escape the sufferings of this life but we as Christians know that suffering for Christ and the faith, it will never touch the things which matter most.
Thank you for coming by the Pew this week. Next week join me as we lay out an argument for the faith.
Life is Good