I PETER 8
Roy Osborne 2006
Reprinted June 2014
WE ARE STRANGERS HERE
I think it is significant that Peter, the Apostle who was always quick to speak out and try to protect Jesus, should utter the words we are reading here in the first of Peter’s two letters. This is the same Peter who tried to prevent Jesus from going to the cross, and who drew his sword to protect Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. His opinion of how things ought to be done was so strong that Jesus had to rebuke him. Evidently the lesson learned when he, in confusion, denied the Lord at the first trial, was powerful enough to change his entire perspective on what the Master really wanted. The words of humble submission, with which these chapters abound, are hardly the same as the attitude of the one who always felt he knew what was best, and spoke it with force on every occasion. A bold Peter, who would enforce his will with a sword, has become an imitator of His Lord, whom he watched submit Himself to the cross for the sake of others.
Sacrifice, suffering and submission are three words very difficult for the human mind to grasp, much less imitate. It is not surprising that the first sin in the Garden was a refusal of man, created with freedom of choice, to choose to be subservient to the One who created him. It is not accidental that Peter often quotes from Isaiah, who presented the Messiah as a humble, suffering lamb, led to the slaughter, who opened not His mouth in His own defense. Peter, even in a time of incredible and unjust persecution under Nero, was insisting on passive acceptance, rather than angry reprisals or rebellious action. His underlying point is simple. The ultimate goal of establishing a kingdom of peace and love is more important than your current ease and comfort, or even your protection and rights.
Even the closest disciples had problems with this teaching of Jesus. At one point they asked, “Will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?” This reflected the teaching they had grown up with. The expectation was that the Messiah would overthrow the oppressor (Rome), and put Israel back in power. When Jesus failed to live up to this expectation, the Jews rejected Him. Before Christians of today condemn them for this, let us look at what church leaders have done to His church over the centuries. Gold encrusted church buildings and royally robed clergy, who have demanded power and have used it to impose their will, and still do, are only the tip of the iceberg as to how far the modern church has departed from the humble suffering Savior.
In America it is very difficult to give up the concept of personal rights and privilege in any area of our lives. Masses marching for someone’s “rights” are on the front page of almost every issue of our newspapers. Power and control are the fuses which touch off battles in every sector of our society. No wonder Peter says we are strangers here. The Christian spirit and attitude are very strange to our current world, even among Christian organizations.
A few years ago a prominent preacher bragged to me that he had won 25 debates defending the church against false teachers. He had elected himself as the protector of the Lord’s church, and had “inherited the sword of Peter” to strike out at all those he considered enemies ofhis version of the truth. Those who use truth as a personal weapon seldom bring people in tears to the Cross.
It is very touchy to even discuss the next words of Peter. “Wives…be submissive to your husbands…etc.” To many people these words are out of date and inappropriate for our modern world and generation. Hence, it is difficult for them to listen long enough to understand the principles Peter is trying to get across. Before we can grasp the underlying truths which are being taught here, we need to get a perspective on God’s purposes, and His will as He has revealed it to us in the Bible.
When we read the word “submissive”, we immediately think of servitude, rights being abrogated, power and authority being enforced. Not so here. In America authority means privilege. In the Bible authority always means responsibility. There is a world of difference!
An honest and careful study of the Bible will reveal that God has always made man responsible for the home, the nation, and the church. It was not Eve that God scolded for the sin in the Garden, but Adam. Even when Deborah was judge in Israel, and the king wanted her to accompany him into battle, she protested that that was not right. She was trying to make him understand that it was his responsibility, not hers, orany woman’s. It is significant that Jesus, even though He worked with and was close to many women, did not choose even one to be an Apostle. They were not of lesser importance, nor of lesser talents. It was just not the responsibility of the women to hold the spiritual welfare of the church in their hands. In Corinth, Paul told the women to keep silent, not in the worship, but in the business of trying to solve the serious spiritual problems in that church. It was not their responsibility to solve these problems, but the men’s.
In the husband/wife relationship, it is significant that Peter uses Sarah as his example. Submissive she was; silent and subservient she was not. It was her insistence that made Abraham send Hagar away. Sarah was not a silent partner. The instructions to husbands are much more stringent than the instructions to wives. He is made responsible for the happiness and well-being of his wife, and his home. He does not have the right to rule as he pleases, and have his own way. Keeping peace, making his family happy, protecting and serving them is his responsibility. The wife is simply told to let him do it. But underlying all of this are the principles of self-denial, and humble service, contrasted to personal rights, power and privilege.
The argument in all of this is that we should do our preaching in humble, loving service instead of from a power pulpit of self-righteousness and personal importance.