Summary: Living on Mission in a Foreign Land Living in Community in Light of Eternity
Living on Mission in a Foreign Land
Living in Community in Light of Eternity
We are in our second mini-series in 1 Peter, “Living on Mission in a Foreign Land,” based on 1 Peter 2.11-4.11. In this section Peter connects the way we live to the mission of Christ, making disciples. In this section, Peter tells us that 'God has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light to proclaim His excellencies.' We are in the midst of chapter three, today we look at “Living in Community in Light of Eternity.”
Big Idea – Seek to bless those around you even those who attack you so that you receive God's promised blessing.
Passage Overview – We have seen that Christ followers are to submit to those in authority over them, even if it means suffering unjustly. Now Peter tells us how to relate to one another in the church family. Out of all the possible things he could tell us to do or how to act, he gives us five attitudes of the heart in which community can thrive by maintaining the unity that the Spirit creates. Then he goes on to explain how these attitudes express themselves in conflict, not retaliating but blessing those who attack you so that you may inherit a blessing. Then he goes not to clarify this premise. Whoever desires to love life and desire to see good days must run from evil and do good, defined as seeking peace and pursuing it because God is for those who are righteous and against those who do evil.
Many of us have been hurt, even wounded by people in the church. Yet the bible describes the very nature of following Christ as being part of the church that finds expression in a local body so the very notion of not being part of the local church is an oxymoron, a contradiction of ideas. Peter says God is building a us, living stones, into a spiritual house whose cornerstone is Christ. Every stone is a necessary part of the building structure. Jesus describes the church as a city on a hill that is a light to those around it. You cannot do that outside the church so he describes attitudes to help the church thrive in the midst of messes, conflicts, and difficult times.
Attitudes for Thriving in Community
The first attitude we are to have is unity of mind; some translations have 'like minded' or 'one mind.' By using this word he means that we have the same basic frame of reference on God, the gospel, living a life of faith, etc. It means that we are on the same page, same path. Next is sympathy, meaning to have the same feelings or to suffer with another. Paul tells us that when one suffers, all suffer and to weep with those who weep. We are to have a relational and spiritual bond that unites us together so that we are there for one another. Next is brotherly love. Being a Christ follower is not just a Sunday event but the community, church, is your family who has their stuff, their messes, and conflicts but we work it out. Peter sees brotherly love as the knot that ties them all together or the tree trunk from which all the other attitudes flow. Then tenderhearted, meaning compassionate, being sensitive to the needs and hurts of others. You can sense this when others are connected with you when you are sharing something painful. Pain has a tendency to make you more tender toward people. The last attitude is humble mind. Sometimes it is helpful to understand something by looking at the opposite. In this case, pride. How does pride look? Prideful individuals think they are better than others, morally or intellectually superior and believe everyone should know it. They have a haughty or arrogant attitude. Humility is recognizing that spiritually I bring nothing to the table; salvation is completely the work of God and everything I am and do is the result of the work of God in me. This verse does not make sense unless you understand the corporate nature of your faith. And you cannot manufacture them; God has to work them in each of us.
Called to be a Blessing to Difficult People
Peter assumes that there will be conflicts among a diverse group of people. When sinful people relate to each other there will be conflict. Yet Peter tells us that when God is working these heart attitudes in us we have the capacity to act in certain way, they do not retaliate because they entrust themselves to God. This word reviling is the same word used of Jesus, 'Jesus did not retaliate because he entrusted himself to God.' When we retaliate – whether we get mad, get even, plot or pout, we are not trusting or hoping in God but engaging in evil.