Summary: Christians should make the best employees...and employers.
In His Steps
Rev. Brian Bill
November 15-16, 2014
Following Jesus Video
Imagine that a homeless man walked into a service and interrupted the sermon by saying, “I’ve been wondering since I came in here, if what you call following Jesus is the same thing as what He taught. What did He mean when He said, ‘Follow Me!’? What do Christians mean by following the steps of Jesus?” How would you respond if right before falling forward on his face and collapsing he asked, “But what would Jesus do?”
A week later, the pastor got up in the pulpit and spoke with considerable hesitation. He told the congregation that the man had died. He then told them that the man’s words had really made an impression on him, compelling him to ask a question he had never asked before, “What does following Jesus mean?” The pastor then leaned forward and asked everyone to pledge themselves, earnestly and honestly, for an entire year, not to do anything without first asking the question, “What would Jesus do?” He added, “After asking the question, each one will follow Jesus exactly as he knows how, no matter what the result may be…we propose to follow Jesus’ steps as closely and as literally as we believe He taught His disciples to do.”
So begins the book called, “In His Steps” by Charles Sheldon, written in 1896. This is where the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) campaign comes from. The title of his book is from a verse that’s in our preaching passage for today. Turn to 1 Peter 2:21: “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.”
Have you noticed that expository verse-by-verse preaching forces us to tackle some tough topics like submission?
• Last week in 2:13-17, we learned that we have a responsibility to be submissive toward earthly government – Good Christians are good citizens.
• From our text today in 2:18-25, we’re going to discover the importance of submission in work relationships and that when we suffer we’re to remember the Savior.
• And next week, in 3:1-7 we’re going to grapple with how submission works itself out in the marriage relationship by learning that spouses are to serve one another.
Listen. Unless you submit to the Savior, you will really struggle with this section of 1 Peter. No matter what the situation, we’re to respond with a submissive attitude. Here’s a helpful definition: “To rank yourself under someone else in order to lift them up and build them up.”
Before we dive into the passage it’s important to understand the culture into which Peter is writing, especially as it relates to slavery.
• Slavery was very common in the Roman Empire, making up about 1/3 of the population. There were four main types - those who worked in mines, on farms, in cities, or in homes. Peter is referring to household slaves in our passage.
• The horrible degradation of slaves in our country was wrong. Any kind of racism in our hearts and in our church and in our community and country is wrong. That’s why we’ll be learning about racism, along with abortion, homosexuality and suicide in early 2015.
• Slaves in the Roman Empire were generally well treated and some were even managers and trained professionals. They were normally paid for their services and had some protection under Roman law.
• Nevertheless, they were held against their will. One commentator says that we need a word stronger than ‘servant’ but weaker than ‘slave.’ He suggests calling them, “semi-permanent employees without legal or economic freedom.”
• The New Testament doesn’t endorse slavery and yet, it did not forbid it. R.C. Sproul points out that all the seeds for the dissolution of slavery are sown in the New Testament. Christianity did not abolish slavery but did introduce a new relationship of brotherhood and dignity for every person that eventually led to societal transformation. We see this in Philemon 16 when Paul urged a slave owner named Philemon to receive his runaway slave back “no longer as a slave but more than a slave – a beloved brother…” Galatians 3:28 adds: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
• We can apply this passage to the workplace and the employee/employer relationship. Some of you feel like the company you work for owns you anyway! And yet, it’s different. We can appeal and in some cases use collective bargaining. OSHA protects us and employees are legally covered from harassment and job discrimination. And if things get too bad we can get another job.
• Some of you are in a really tough work environment right now. I don’t want to minimize or trivialize that you may feel trapped or hate your job or that you’re being taken advantage of. I pray that you’ll come away with a godly game plan for how to move forward.