Summary: Lessons on Harmony from 1 Peter

Living in Harmony - 1 Peter 2a

June 29, 2008

Turn with me this morning to the end of your Bibles, to the book of 1 Peter, chapter 1. We want to continue on in our study of the book of 1 Peter. Remember that Peter is writing to give practical help to Christians dealing with daily problems. He starts by reminding us that we all face trials. They come in all shapes and sizes of trial. Peter says we can expect them to come; so don’t be surprised when they do come. They can be very hard to deal with, but with God’s help, we can make it through. Peter says in spite of the trials in our lives, we are to Live in Hope. Hope is not a futile wishing for a good future, rather hope is the confident expectation that God will work, based upon his character. I can have hope in the midst of trials, Peter tells me, because I am chosen of God - God loved me and elected ME! I am born of God - God not only loved me, but he made me his child. I am destined for good - I have an incorruptible inheritance waiting for me. I am shielded by God’s power - I am completely protected as I face these various trials. Therefore, I can have JOY in the midst of the trials, and I can GROW spiritually.

Last week we saw that God’s call to us today is to Live in Holiness. To do that, Peter calls us to

control our minds, imitate our master, inquire of scripture, anticipate judgment, and confirm our faith. Today we continue on to see the next step. We live in hope, we live in holiness, and we are to Live in Harmony. Look with me as I read from 1 Peter 1:22-25 - Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands for ever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.

Let’s Pray! (prayer)

Peter calls us to holiness - remember this word holiness is really the idea of being “different” than the world - and then he continues on in today’s passage to call us to live in harmony in response to the holy life we live. Peter tells us iv verse 22 HOW we become different, holy - we are purified by “obeying the truth” - by thinking and acting in line with what God’s word teaches. And Peter tells us what will happen to us when we do - we will love one another. We develop a “brotherly love” for each other - we view each other as brother and sister. We develop a “commitment” to one another. At Mildred’s funeral on Friday, one of the ladies there said how beautiful it was to come together and feel such a kinship and love with brothers and sisters in Christ that she had just met. Even though we don’t really know each other, there is a bond of affection between us.

But Peter tells us that that affection is not good enough. Often we want to do just enough good to get by. We don’t want to go overboard, we just want to do enough to make God happy. But Peter says that we don’t just have an “affection” for other Christians -- a brotherly love -- but we need to go on to a deep, godly, sacrificing love. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. Peter says since you have “phileo” - brotherly love, now you need to go on to have “agape” - deep self-sacrificing love. And he says we are to have this agape love “deeply” or “fervently” - a word which literally means “stretching out the hand.” To really love like God wants us to love, we need to extend a hand to others -- not just to those we like or those who like us - but even to the unlovely. We give of ourselves to meet the needs of others.

Ephesians 4:28 tells us, He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Why do we work? Not just to put food on the table and pay our bills, but so we can help others in need.

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