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Sermon6 1Pt2:11-25 Guide

1 Peter 1:11-25, recitation verse 1 Peter 2:17

The praise and honor and glory be to our heavenly Father who seeks worshipers who worship Him with the Spirit and truth.

I believe that in the Christian life, love and justice are the two most important virtues. However, living in this corrupted world, we inevitably experience unfairness and injustice often. In such cases, how should we as Christians respond? The most common principles we know are either to flee or to fight. However, Jesus has shown us a third way, which is nonviolent resistance, in other words, to respond with nonviolence against violence and injustice. This nonviolent resistance has influenced many nonviolent resistance movements such as Gandhi's nonviolent independence movement in India, Martin Luther King Jr.'s nonviolent slave liberation movement in the United States, and the March 1st Movement, a nonviolent movement against violent military Japanese rule. Nonviolent resistance is fundamentally different from cowardly fleeing, since it can ultimately bring about fundamental changes in the rules of the violent system, exposing the nature of evil, introducing the collapse of the system by itself. In today's passage, Peter exhorts us to endure unfair and ambiguous suffering caused by emperors, governors, or employers, by remembering God's grace. I hope we can learn from Peter, after examining together why he made such an exhortation.

1) First, in 1 Peter 1:1-2:10 as the introductory part of this letter, Peter lays the theological foundation for the entire prologue of the work. In this introduction, Peter urges Christians to persevere through suffering with living hope, since they were born again through God's great mercy and the resurrection of Jesus Christ and also God will persevere them until the salvation and the faith refined through suffering will result in praise, glory, and honor when the Lord will return. Therefore, Peter exhorts that Christians must live holy, righteous, and loving lives as God's chosen people.

2) Then, in verses 2:11-4:19, as the body of the letter, Peter gives practical instructions on how Christians should live in the pagan society. First, in 2:11-25, he provides general guidance for everyday life and how to conduct oneself in relation to the Roman Emperor, governors, and employers. In 3:1-7, he gives instructions for married life, and finally, in 3:8-4:19, he teaches specific guidelines for living within the church community."

3) Especially in Today’s Bible verses of 2:11-25, Peter gives two instructions; In 2:11-12, Peter provides general guidance for life in a pagan society, while in 2:13-25, he provides specific guidance for life as a citizen of the Roman Empire, for how to conduct oneself with the emperor, governor, and employer.

4) First of all, Peter exhorts us to live a life to control our fleshly desires and glorifies God through good deeds in the pagan society. Here the Greek word "ἀπέχω (apechō)", translated as "to control", carries the meanings of "to be away from", "to avoid", and "to abstain". Considering the point that it was written in the present tense, it can be understood as "continuously staying away from the sinful desires of the flesh and avoiding falling into them".

5) When we remind Peter’s life, we can understand why he exhorts like this. We know that as a disciple of Jesus, Peter followed the Lord with the utmost passion as His closest companion for three years during Jesus’ ministry on earth and one day Peter confessed Jesus as "the Christ and the Son of the living God." However, in other moment, he slipped away to try to block Jesus’ redemptional ministry in the cross or in the night Jesus was caught, to deny Jesus three times even with curse. The one who experienced all this up and down, exhorts to "continuously stay away from and avoid falling into the sinful desires of the flesh since Peter knew how persistent the fleshly desires that still linger in the hearts of believers can be, as the Greek word "στρατεύω (strateuo)", translated as "to wage war" or "to fight" with present tense helps us understand that our fleshly desires continuously fight against our souls.

6) And then, from 2:13-25, Peter teaches how to approach the authorities such as emperors, governors, and employers. First, Peter exhorts us to obey to the Authorities, since all human institutions and authorities come from God, from the basic principle for all human relationships, "Fear God, love your brothers and sisters, respect everyone, and honor the emperor" (v17), in other words, we have to fear God since God is the Creator, the Ruler, and the Judge, and to love brothers and sisters who have become children of God through the precious blood of the Lord and all people should be respected based on human dignity as God’s image bearers, at the same time, to honor the authorities God has established to rule the world.

7) I mean, when God governs the world, He does so through the systems like kings or governments, and for this purpose, He has given the authorities to reward those who do good and punish those who do evil to those who govern. Therefore, Peter exhorts us to obey to all human institutions for the sake of the Lord, and also advises to respect kings and governors. This is also clearly stated in the Ten Commandments that God established long ago. In the fifth commandment of the first part of the Ten Commandments, which deals with human relationships, it says, "Honor your father and mother." This phrase ultimately means to respect the authority that God has established.

8) However, the Greek word used for "honor" and "respect" in "Honor everyone and respect the king" is the same 'τιμάω' (timaō), which has the meaning of respect, honor, or reverence. The fact that the same Greek word is used for both everyone and the king is something we should pay attention to as it suggests that there should be no difference in the way we honor everyone and the king. However, the reason for showing respect may be different. We should respect the dignity of every person as they are created in the image of God, while we should respect the authority of the king or governor because they have been granted their authorities by God. But, in both cases, respect is based on reverence for God.

9) However, the authorities are not perfect like God. Of course, it would be nice if rulers were good, gentle, and just, but they are not always like that. They can be cunning, mean-spirited, and sometimes cause suffering even for those who do good, with unfair or ambiguous judgments. Even in such unfair suffering, Peter encourages us to endure it, keeping God in mind. The reason for this is that we were called for this purpose, and also Jesus Christ showed us to follow His footsteps as He silently endured unfair suffering to complete the redemptive work for humanity.

10) Through Today’s text, we would like to learn few things. First, we need to understand that Peter's exhortation does not mean to run away from injustice, as Jesus' life testifies that we Christians must fight against sins and injustice. However, in doing so, we should do non-violent resistance as in verses 22-23, Jesus did not retaliate when he was insulted, but entrusted Himself to God, who judges justly, and suffered, even unto death on the cross even though He was innocent, in order that we might die to sin and live for righteousness, and also that through the sufferings he bore, our deep-seated sin could be healed. Therefore, non-violent struggle against the tyranny of sin and injustice is the most proactive resistance in the sense that it exposes the illusion and injustice of violence in public and leaves judgment and condemnation to the most righteous God. This is the most fundamental resistance that enables us to be healed of our deep-seated sin, which we tried to be the judge of good and evil by ourselves since the first sin of mankind, and to participate in the suffering of the Lord, who heals that sin and returning the seat of the Ultimate Judge to God, as we pursue not to our will, but God's will be done. Peter also exhorts us to endure unfair and ambiguous suffering by thinking of God, because if it were not for God's grace and long-suffering, we would not be able to stand in His grace that we now enjoy. In other words, even though Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, the triune God made an eternal covenant of redemption, created this world centered on the grace, and determined to rule this world through the grace. Therefore, when Adam and Eve committed the sin, He made them clothes of animal skins and preached the primitive gospel, so that they could live in hope. Even when all human sins were rampant on the earth so that God judged them with the flood, He saved Noah's family of eight, which was a complete act of grace. "And God's that grace is still with us, even in those moments when we unjustly treat God and sin again. If God had punished us with the appropriate penalty every time we sinned, no one would be left in this world. God delights in ruling this world through His grace, and it is His desire for His chosen people to live this way too. We hope that through our endurance in the midst of suffering, we not only please God but also eventually receive glory too.

11) Finally, the principle of social life when we face unfair or ambiguous situations is to judge good and evil and punish based on that judgement. However, this judgement-based approach does not change people. Therefore, it is more important to do great things than to do what is right, and the greatest thing is to give grace. A desire to change does not arise from that judgement, but from silently enduring and embracing our shortcomings, waiting in faith until we are changed. Therefore, as Christians, we must live such a life, as Peter has said.

12) In the "Epistle to Diognetus," which was believed to be written around the 2nd to 3rd century, we can catch a glimpse of the lives of Christians at that time. The letter says, “Christians are not distinguishable by language or customs. … Yet while living in both Greek and pagan cities, following local customs and the lifestyle, they show the admirable and unusual character of their own heavenly citizenship. They obey the laws, yet their lifestyle rises above the laws. They love everyone, while being persecuted by all. … When doing good, they are punished as evil; when being punished, they rejoice. They are persecuted by Jews and Greeks. Yet those who hate them cannot explain the reason for their hospitality.”

13) I pray that since we were born again through the great mercy of God and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we may live the life of justice and love so that even when we face unfair and ambiguous suffering, we may endure it, thinking God and we may proclaim the grace of God in this world as we pursue the example of Jesus Christ.

Key Questions as Small Group Activity

Q1 The passage we read today is very challenging for modern Christians who do not like receiving unfair and vague suffering. However, I have come to realize that the essence of being a Christian is to endure such unfair and vague suffering while thinking of God. When you reflect on your life, if you have experienced any unfair or vague suffering and have persevered in pursuing the Lord's example through thinking of God, I hope you can share it with others.

Q2 In social life, we sometimes encounter good leaders who understand and make things easier for those beneath them, but there are also many cases where we don't as I confess that I have not yet met a perfect leader. However, today's passage urges us to endure even if we suffer unfairly and vaguely under a tyrannical leader, because God is the one who ultimately rules this world. While it may sound trite to obey authority in post-modern society that rejects authority, I hope you may think about why Peter made such an exhortation and share your thoughts with others.

Love you. Thank you. God bless you.

Prayer Note

Dear ( God’s attribute which you found Today ) God!

Thanks for ( something you received through the sermon or even during the week )

Praise, gratitude and glory be to You, Lord!

Today, I realized my sin (pains) that ( the sin God reminded through the sermon ),

please forgive (or heal) me and help me not to repeat ( the sins you recognized ).

I learned that ( something you learned through the sermon )

Please help me to live in that ( learned way of life )

I pray in ( Jesus’ attribute you find ) Jesus’ name. Amen.


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