People of God: TOGETHER
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
1 Peter 5:1-6
What would your dream church look like?
Does this describe your perfect church?
If so, do you realize that this perfect church is all about you?
Don’t get me wrong. That’s true to a certain extent. Church is a lot about you. You and your relationship with God. But think about it, if church was all about you…tailored to your likes, your interests, your preferences in every way, shape and form--- how many people do you think would come…
In today’s lesson, Peter tells us that we are not alone. We don’t attend a church as a PERSON of God, but as PEOPLE of God. And as People of God, we are in this TOGETHER.
I. Notes about Caring for Others
Take a look at Peter’s words in 5:1-4. These describe how important it is to care for each other. Peter writes, “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”
Caring for others was so important to do that already at the time 1 Peter was written—twenty some years after Jesus ascended into heaven – there was a special position in churches that involved doing just that: Caring for others. Here it is called “an elder.” The word means more than just being physically mature or older. It refers to one who is spiritually mature who is asked to care for the spiritual health of others.
At Gethsemane, we still have that position. We have a group of men specifically tasked with caring for the spiritual well being of the congregation’s member.
Does that mean if you aren’t a pastor or an elder that this section doesn’t have anything to say to you?
Not so much.
Because this section talks to people who have been tasked with caring for others, it therefore has principles that apply to anyone who has been tasked with caring for others. It speaks to members of the ladies group who care for each other. It speaks to parents who lead their children. It speaks to husbands who care for their wives and wives who care for their husbands. It speaks to Christians who care about their friends…friends who care for those they serve cookies with, and congregation members who care for others who sit in their row!
In other word, If you are a Christian, you have been called to care for other Christians!
Peter knew this was especially important for the church during times of persecution. That’s why he notes in verse 1, “I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings…”
Peter had truly witnessed Christ’s sufferings. He saw Jesus arrested. He saw him on trial. He saw him battered and beaten. He saw him crucified. And Peter saw what this persecution did for Jesus’ followers. They fled. They betrayed him. They denied knowing him. They hid away in fear.
Since the church at Peter’s time would be undergoing very similar persecutions (remember what we talked about last week), Peter knew the same struggles of doubt, fear, and denial would be facing those Christians.
In the same way, our flock facing struggles. Temptations to sin, temptations to doubt, persecutions at work, on the internet, in the media. Therefore, it is imperative that we listen to Peter’s solution: Be shepherds of God’s flock under your care.
Ever notice the difference in caring for your own stuff versus caring for someone else’s stuff. For instance, if you spill some ketchup on your shirt, you might think, “No big deal. I have more at home." I might dab at it a bit, but you don’t stress over it.
But if you are borrowing someone else’s shirt, how does that change? Suddenly, you run to the bathroom and use the entire soap dispenser’s worth of liquid soap to get the stain out. IT’S NOT YOUR SHIRT! You go to the store and pay for a couple of Tide sticks. You pray that the stain will come out, because it’s not your shirt!
The group of people that have been placed into our congregational lives? It isn’t our congregation. It isn’t Gethsemane’s congregation. It’s God’s congregation.
Think about what that means for pastors – this isn’t my people, but God’s people. It isn’t People of Kiecker, but people of God! Same thing goes for the elders. It isn’t: “This person is under my care, but not that person…I don’t have time to pray for them,” But this person is God’s person and I’ll remember them in my prayers. Even Sunday School teachers: “This is God’s child. He’s entrusted me to serve them the best I am able. I will care for their souls…” For all of us, it says, “I will encourage this person for God’s sake, not for my own sake!”
Keeping our mind on this truth will help guards us against three pitfalls that come in while caring for others:
1. Pitfall of Begrudging.
Peter warns against begrudging in verse 3, "Not because you must, but because you want to." This is an easy trap to fall into. It's so easy as a pastor to say, "I have to do this it's my job. Ugh. That person doesn't even like me that much and I'm not that fond of talking to them. Time to get it over with."
It's just as easy for the Christian laymen to fall into. “God just isn’t fair. I have no desire to talk to others. I have no desire to dampen my Sunday morning listening to another person complain. I just want to get to my pew, sing my favorite songs, and leave. I don’t want to leave my comfort zone, so if God wants me to talk, He’s being unfair!”
Let’s get this straight. I’m not going to grab you by the hand as I usher you out and walk you to a sister’s row in back, introduce you, and then stand there with my arms crossed glaring at you until you make that person feel encouraged.
But I will remind you of what Jesus did for you. How he went totally out of his comfort zone. Actually, how he went out of anyone’s comfort zone. He allowed nails to be driven into his hands and his feet in order to take away your sins.
Jesus suffered in order to care for you—spiritually and eternally.
Don’t care for others, “because you must but because you want to.” Because you want to serve your awesome Savior and because you want to serve others with the message of your awesome Savior.
2. Pitfall of Greed.
Still in verse 3 Peter touches on this. He writes, "Shepherd others...not greedy, but with eagerness."
Of course, this speaks to pastors and elders as a reminder not to serve others in hopes that “we’ll keep enough people in church to pay the bills for September…” It also speaks to the awful attitude of the pastor who says, “I really need to pump up my numbers in hopes that they’ll give more offerings and I’ll get more money!” Terrible. To all in such positions watch out for greed!
But what does it say to you as an unpaid church volunteer?
Well, greed might get in the way again, “This isn’t my job! Who cares if ‘so-and-so’ has been missing from church! Who cares, if 'so-and-so' had a bad week. It isn’t up to me to email them an encouragement. I’m too busy with my own job to spend a lunch break calling a church friend of mine.”
You’re right. There isn’t any reward check for $100 given to the lay person who does the most ministry in the next week. There isn’t even a “church member of the month” pin.
But there is our Savior. Our Savior who wasn’t paid anything but suffering and death for saving you!
Don’t serve because of greed, but because you are eager. Eager to tell others about the free gift of salvation in Christ. Eager to live in peace knowing that salvation has already been paid for by Christ.
3. Pitfall of Pride
THIRD, Peter warns of pride. He writes, “Don’t lord it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”
This is another easy pitfall. To get to thinking, “I’m the church going one. I help all of the time. I make sure to invite people to church like pastor says. I forward on emails like pastor says. I help get the church ready for Sunday like pastor says. In fact, when you think about it, just about every person who comes to church or comes back to church is really a badge of honor for me!”
A badge of honor for you? Really?
You aren’t even a badge of honor for you.
Remember the Bible says, “We were dead in our sins and the uncircumcision of our sinful nature.” We were gross. We were awful. There is nothing anyone of us could do to earn our own salvation or impress God with our faith!
It is Jesus who died for us. God who called us. The Holy Spirit who brought us to faith! We are God’s badge of honor.
The same is true for all whom he uses us to bring to faith. The same is true for all whom we care for. They too are blood bought sons and daughters of God. They too are loved by him. They too are being called to him!
Don’t care for others just to feel important, but because they need an example. An example of love. An example of humility. An example of one who knows how important it is to go to church and who reflects on his Word week after week.
They’ll see you. They’ll follow suit. And God will have used you to draw them closer to Him.
So what’s in it for you? It isn’t pride. It isn’t money. It isn’t recognition. It lasts much longer:
Peter writes, “When the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” A crown of life. Heaven. A gift readied for you by your chief shepherd. A place of quiet waters. A place to drink from the river of life. A place where you will lie down in the eternal pastures of God’s love.
Don’t serve others to earn a gift. To earn anything. But care for others because God cared for you!
II. Notes about Being Cared for by Others
Of course, throughout your time in this church there may be times when you are not caring for others, but you need to be cared for by others. Meaning: Others might rebuke you. Others might pray for you. Others might call you on the phone to say, “Hey! I haven’t seen you in church for awhile? I’m concerned about you.”
How then do you react when you are being cared for? How do you react when you are being shepherded?
Well, here’s what our sinful nature would have us do: HANG UP. Ignore them. Tell them to “buzz off.” Harden our hearts and resolve even more to continue doing whatever sin we’re doing and to continue to stay away from church.
Of course, our sinful nature wants us away from church! It’s there where it is confronted with God’s Law. It is there where it is reminded of it’s ugliness. It is there where God’s Gospel empowers you to rid yourself of this ugly lifestyle.
So, instead of getting mad at whomever approaches you to rebuke you, Peter tells us to be submissive. He says, “Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older.” Listen. Respect them. Take it to heart. Check God’s Word to see if what they say is found in God’s Word. And if what that person is telling you is also found in God’s Word? Then listen.
And if you don’t…
Then, it is important to note who you are ignoring. It isn’t your pastor. It isn’t your elder. It isn’t your church friends.
Don’t let pride get in the way of you being cared for!
I went to the dentist this past week. She told me I needed to floss more. (Ever happened to you?) The interesting thing is that as she said this (and as this has happened in the past) I started to think, “Don’t judge me! I don’t have time to floss. I brush twice a day with a very minty tasting toothpaste. Leave me alone. I’m fine.”
How foolish! Especially when I am getting a root canal.
Don’t let pride get in the way of you being cared for! Not in the area of tooth decay, but also in the area of soul decay. When someone comes to you to tell you to get back to church, take them to heart! When someone tells you to rid your life of sin, rid your life of sin!
And stay calm. This is accomplished by doing what Peter commands in verse 5, “Clothe yourself with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."
This is nothing more than the Gospel. God lifts up the humble. To those who humble themselves and say, “I am a sinner.” God lifts up. To those who humble selves and say, “I need help.” God lifts up. To those who humbles themselves and say, “I’ve been a Christian all my life, but lately I’ve failed miserably. I’ve struggled with sin. I’ve fallen into the pit of repeated sin. I am in despair. God forgive me!”
God lifts up. He forgives. He restores.
The picture of a perfect church changes, doesn’t it? It isn’t all about you anymore.
The perfect church. It isn't about you. It isn’t all about me. It isn’t all about others.
It’s about us.
Us and God.
Us and love.
Us and being together...until we are together forever with Jesus. Amen.
People of God: Suffering
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
Do you know who Joel Osteen is? He’s pastor at a huge Mega church. He wears nice suits. He has very pearly whites and a flashy smile.
He is also famous for teaching something called the Theology of Glory. The Theology of Glory is simply this: Become a Christian and God will give you a good life. In other words, the more and more you follow God…the more and more glorious your life will become. Here’s an example from his book: Your Best Life Right Now: 7 Steps to Living at your Full Potential.
God wants you to have a good life, a life filled with love, joy, peace, and fulfillment. That doesn’t mean it will always be easy, but it does mean that it will always be good.
That seems nice right? God wants us to have good things happen in this life. The implication? If, then, your life isn't so good, it's because you aren't believing hard enough.
I wonder what would happen if you preached that to Stephen-- the man who confessed Jesus as Savior until the Pharisees hurled stones at his head until he died. Or to the Apostle James who was put to death by King Herod, or to the Apostle Paul stoned, arrested, imprisoned, and banished for the sake of Jesus.
Did these guys have it wrong? Were the suffering because they didn't believe enough? Were they bad Christians?
Today’s message from 1 Peter 4:12-19 describes a much different picture of faith in Christ. It describes a picture where the People of God suffer just for being Christians!
1. Suffering isn't Surprising!
Take a look at 4:12, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”
Notice that Peter writes it isn’t strange at all to suffer for being a Christian. In fact, we should expect it. Like I expect the drinking fountain to splash out cool H20 when I press the lever and not warm chocolate milk, so we should expect to suffer for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Why should we expect it? Consider Jesus. He himself suffered for his teachings. He told the Pharisees that they needed a Savior and they told him that he needed to shut up. He told them he came to save them and they came to crucify them. He said that He’d die for them and they said they’d kill Him for them.
Jesus and his message earned him suffering.
Should his followers expect anything less?
Should those early Christians expect anything less?
Should modern Christians expect anything less?
Should you expect anything less?
Maybe you do. Ask yourself:
Not true. In fact, the opposite seems to be more likely. If you aren't experiencing hardship simply for being a Christian, then maybe you aren't making that fact known well enough! Because being a Christian means enduring suffering for being a Christian!
And it’s bad.
Christians in the Middle East being beheaded for the faith.
Christians in China being deported or throne into prison.
Christians in America being ridiculed and mock for ‘archaic’ belief in the Bible.
Suffering as a Christian isn’t surprising, but it is still suffering. Even terrible.
So…you might be thinking: “This is all terrible news. How can suffering be a good thing? How can Christianity be a good thing? Maybe I’ve still got time to change my allegiance and join a Buddhist meditation room instead!”
When we consider how Christians suffer for following Jesus, we might get sad. But Peter tells us to do the exact opposite. Look at verse 13. He says, “Rejoice!”
II. Suffering Isn't Saddening
Because at our Preschool, sometimes the little ones fall and scrape their knees. Sometimes there is a scratch; sometimes a little bit of blood; and sometimes the ever popular "invisible wound.”
But there is always tears.
In fact, never once has a child popped up with a smile and both arms in the air shouting, “I did it! I’m so happy. I’m suffering with an injury!”
But this is exactly what God is telling us to do in response to suffering for Jesus. 1 Peter 4:13 says, “Rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ…"
Weird? Not so much. Peter isn’t a sadist. In fact, he gives four wonderful reasons to rejoice in suffering:
1) The Glory Revelation is Coming!
Verse 13 says that suffering happens So that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. That glory is nothing else than that glorious moment when we become a member of God’s incredible kingdom in heaven.
Why is that so important?
As bad as suffering might get, whether it’s insults, lost friends on Facebook, frowns from your coworkers, prison, physical harm or even death…
…what is that compared to eternal glory in heaven?
The answer? Worth it.
· What are a few angry glances from people compared to the eternal loving smile of your Father in heaven?
· What are a few uneasy feelings compared to the constant peace of forgiveness from God?
· What are a few bad names compared to the name of “MY CHILD” spoken by God himself?
· What are a few broken bones compared to the healing glory of your Divine brother’s love?
Suffering on earth reminds us of how glorious life will be without suffering in heaven! It fixes our eyes on Jesus not on trying to build up wealth on earth. In doing so, it strengthens our faith and our grip on eternal, forever riches in heaven!
2) The Spirit of the Lord is on You
Peter tells us a second reason to rejoice in suffering. Check out verse 14, “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”
How do Atheists feel about God? They hate him. How about people who love doing their sins? They hate him.
If people hate you for your faith in God, understand this awesome truth: That means God is in you! Your faith is real.
Think about what would happen if you walked into an NC State bar with a UNC hat on? You’d get jeered out of there!
Think about what happens when you have Jesus, whom the sinner hates, on your side? You suffer!
But this is great news. Because it means that the Lord is in you! It means that the Spirit of God is with you. If you are faithfully suffering for Jesus, that means you are in faith and have saving faith! Your friends, your coworkers, your family, the world does not hate you, but they hate God! And, if you had to choose which side to be on, wouldn’t you want to be on the side of the Almighty? The only One who matters? The only One who will judge on Judgment Day?
3) You Bear Christ’s Name
Thirdly, Peter writes, If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
If you are a UNC Tarheel fan, you might suffer this past weekend. They kind of got clobbered by ECU. But, if you are Tarheel faithful, you will grin and bear it. Happy to be an alumni, willing to be a part of the club, even if you have to take your licks in doing so.
If you suffer for Christ as a Christian, don’t focus on the sadness of being insulted; instead praise God that you are a part of Christ's team! Thank the Lord that your sins have been removed; you have been called by Christ; you have been baptized into his name; you are together with the LORD almighty.
You are a Christian. You are Christ’s. You bear his Name before your Father in heaven.
That means you are saved!
4) God will Judge the Enemies of Christ.
And thank the Lord. Because what will it be like for those against Christ? Which is our final reason for rejoicing during suffering. Take a look at the final verses from our text: It is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
Truth is, when you think of judgment, even as a Christian, who knows Jesus died for you and took away your sins, it’s still hard. Hard to truly believe that Jesus died for our sins. Tough to trust that God is in fact faithful to his word of forgiveness. With prayers and thanks to God, we ask Him to hold us in faith and keep us trusting in God for salvation.
But what will unbelievers do? What will all those who persecute and destroy the church of God do at that time? Will they persecute God? Will they destroy Him? Will they mock Him?
Or will they come face to face with their Maker? Will they have to confront the Almighty fiery eyed hatred of the One they have been against? Won’t God our Lord avenge us? Won’t God the Lord avenge himself?
Go back to that Osteen quote. Joel says, “God wants you to have a good life.” But as we look at the suffering being a Christian leads to in this life, we realize that isn’t true.
Because God doesn’t just want you to have a good life on this earth…
…he wants you to spend a blessed eternity forever in heaven with him!
Peter concludes his text this way: So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
Because suffering for God isn’t so bad. It’s a blessing. A blessing that reminds us of heaven. A blessing that shows we have the Spirit of Christ and Christ’s name on us. A blessing that means we will not face the full wrath of God in heaven.
A blessing that shows that God loves us.
People of God: Attitude
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. 2 As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.
7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
--1 Peter 4:1-11
“You need an attitude adjustment mister!”
Ever heard that before? Maybe you were a young kid grumbling as you cleaned up your toys because you weren’t ready for bed yet. Maybe you were a teenager grumbling when your mom was upset that everyday you only told her that your day was “FINE!” Maybe you were a coworker who hadn’t had coffee yet and were just a bit difficult to work with. Maybe you were a spouse who came home at the end of a long day and weren’t remotely ready to converse!
Last week we heard the wonderful reminder that through faith in Jesus we are saved! This week we’re going to talk about what kind of an attitude “the saved” should have. As you read, pay close attention, consider your life prayerfully and answer whether or not you need an ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT.
1. Attitude or Baditude?
Take a look first of all at the right attitude. The Godly attitude -- Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. 2 As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
Jesus our Lord is the perfect example of the attitude God wants us to have. For Jesus, following God was more important than any kind of bodily desires. Following God was the most important thing! He did not lust when he saw women. He did not hoard money to himself to fill himself up with plenty of food. He did not let out his rage and start calling his enemies all kinds of nasty names. Jesus always served God first and his body second.
In fact, Jesus didn’t even refuse God’s directive to die on the cross. As painful as that was to his body, he still went ahead and did it. Following God was more important to him than his own bodily welfare.
God wants us to have the same attitude. In fact, God’s Word says, “Arm yourselves with the same attitude.” We might say: “Gear up!” Like the many NFL players who put on their cleats, knee pads, thigh pads, shoulder pads, and cool looking wrist bands, we too need to gear up with this “God-first” attitude each day.
And it needs to be in every aspect of life. Again, if the football players forgets his helmet then he hasn’t totally geared up. If we don’t put God first in a few, hidden aspects of our lives, then we aren’t fully geared up!
Deuteronomy 6 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” This is a godly attitude to have at home, at work, at play, at school, with relatives, with friends, with coworkers, with people who really aren’t all that nice! Have this attitude all the time.
Of course, this godly attitude is totally different the attitude of this world. The world says:
“Do what you want.”
“Do what feels right.”
“Who cares about anyone else, as long as you're happy.”
What would life be like if we all lived by that creed? Would any of us be happy?
Brother and sisters, you are not to be like that. Peter writes in verses 3-4, "…you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.”
The wrong attitude occurs when you care more about your physical life than your spiritual life. Then, it leads to wrong actions.
That’s really what it is isn’t it? Caring more aobut your body than God is idolatry. You serve you. Not God!
But this isn’t unlike the world. The world says, “We are only an accidental victor in evolution. We are the greatest animal. Who cares about anyone else? Do what makes you better than others?!?”
Should we be surprised then that they are surprised when they see any attitude that is completely different Peter says, “4 They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you."
It looks like this:
It’s strange to follow God over and above your own physical desires!
So…what about you? Are you strange?
I don’t mean to ask if you spent yesterday walking about the mall like a duck shouting “Here comes the money!” at everyone who passed you by.
I mean “Do you put God first so obviously in your life, that people take notice? Do they find your perspective on life strange? Do they find your love and righteousness so different than the rest of the world that they’d call you…different. Strange?"
If the answer is, no…then “Why not?”
I suppose it could be because you have nice, Christian friends. Friends who live like you do and appreciate your Christian perspective on life.
But maybe it’s because you aren’t living all that strange. Maybe your attitude isn’t about serving God first and your body later. Maybe your coworkers can’t tell you’re a Christian…OR…if you’ve told them you are…they can’t tell that there’s any difference. You swear like them, lust like them, lie like them. You watch the same raunchy movies, you say the same raunchy jokes.
Brothers and sisters, if God couldn’t pick you out of a lineup of unbelievers by looking at your lifestyle, this is not good! You need a spiritual attitude adjustment!
2. The Spiritual Attitude Adjustment
Let Peter tell you why. Verse 5 says, “But they, these people who care more about their bodies than serving God, will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”
Yes, Peter is talking about those debaucherous pagans here, but isn’t this meant for us too? We, too, will have to give an account for our actions to the Almighty God.
And if your report is indistinguishable from the report of the unbelieving pagan next to you, then…what explanation will you offer?
God doesn’t do cool. Not when it comes to sin. When it comes to sin, his feelings are very hot. His anger burns against it and he sends sinners to hell.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Read verse 6, “For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit."
The Gospel! That means good news. The good news is what we heard about in last week’s sermon: In spite of our sins, in spite of our terrible atttitudes, in spite of our selfishness, Jesus died to save us:
He saved us with his perfect life, innocent death, and glorious resurrection. He saved us from sin, death, and hell! He saved us to heaven!
This means that by trusting in Jesus Christ as your Savior, you will be forgiven all of your sinful, selfish attitudes. By abandoning your sinful lifestyles and turning to God for grace, you will be saved from God’s wrath!
Because it doesn’t matter what humans say to you. It doesn’t matter if they think of you as a cool mom or a trendy hipster or a enlightened sauvant! It matters what God says to you. And thanks to Jesus: God says you will live!
This glorious news changes our attitude. When you see your Savior suffering for your salvation, it changes your attitude. No longer is “the way you feel” most important, but what pleases God!
The Gospel leads us to suffer in the body for the sake of following our Lord Jesus. It leads us to say “I care more about my Lord than my own body, because he cared more about me than his own body!” The Gospel leads us to hate sin. The Gospel leads us to go against the world. The Gospel leads us to have a different attitude. A better attitude.
A strange attitude.
3. Your New Strange Attitude
Peter now starts listing attributes. Actions taken as a result of this new, strange attitude. Listen: “ 7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
*We are clear minded. Verse 7 says it, “7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” Literally the word means “Sober.” Of course, we think of what happens when people have too much alcohol. They can’t think clear. They can’t walk in a straight line. They make cloudy decisions.
But alcohol isn’t the only thing that can make us drunk: Money. Status. Lust. Things of this world can cloud our decision making and get in the way of following Jesus.
So sober up! Drink the clean water of God’s Word. Flush out the false pretenses of this world. Focus in on Jesus and make following His will your number one goal!
To God, not so much.
*We love deeply. This is not what the world says to do. The world says, “Get revenge! Repeay evil for evil.” In fact, Betrayal and Revenge are two of the most popular TV shows on Primetime. (Does that say anything about the state of our nation by the way?)
God’s Word is different. It says repay evil with love. Love covers up a multitude of sins.
And do you want motivation? Consider this: God didn’t repay your evil with more evil. He sent his Son Jesus. Jesus died for sins. He showed love. His love covered up a multitude of sins:
Make your love the same. A love so strong that it’s strange.
* We are hospitable. We’ve been talking about that a lot when it comes to welcoming visitors to church. Think about what it means. It means we don’t worry about ourselves “I’m tired. I haven’t had coffee. I just want to sit in church and be served.” Instead we think about others, “They might be tired. They might need a coffee. I want to get up, even though I’m tired, and serve them!”
Where’s the line? When might I be too hospitable? Offering a ride home. Spending my time talking to a visitor. Asking a guest at our church to my house?
Be so hospitable that it’s strange! After all, we have a Gospel of hospitality – one who suffered God’s wrath and crucifixion to be hospitable and save us from sin!
Make your hospitality extreme. So extreme it’s different. As Chrysostom the church father once said, “Preach the Gospel. When necessary, use words!”
*We serve. Verse 10 says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides…"
We’re reminded that God has blessed the church with many different skills, abilities, and treasures. But we aren’t to use those to seek our own glory. It isn’t about who is the best. It isn’t about getting the best status. It isn’t even about being the best church goer. (We don’t go to church to see who is being the best Christian this week!)
Rather we work together. Different talents; same attitude: “Serve Jesus!”
Serve him with art. Serve him with prayer. Serve him with encouragement. Serve him with outreach. Serve him by counting numbers. Serve him by maintaining his house. Serve him by getting communion ready. Serve him by cleaning up the pews. Serve him by serving coffee.
Serve God by serving others! A strange concept to the world.
I believe that we now have a new attitude. And may I propose a new motto to live by. Each day ask yourself, “How can I be strange today? How can I live differently? How can I love Jesus profoundly? How can I make it clear that I am serving God this day and everyday!"
Brothers and sisters, have a strange attitude. Live a strange life. Do strange things.
It’s like that song, “This little Gospel light of mine.” Only instead of a little Gospel light, the encouragement this week is to go out and buy a 9000 watt Gospel spotlight!
And don’t do it just so that you can walk about and say, “I’m pretty good at being STRANGE for Jesus.” That’s not the goal.
Just like the spotlight’s goal isn’t to shine light on itself. The spotlight focuses others on something. It points people in direction
Our spotlight? Our life? It shines on Christ: As Peter ends it…so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
People of God: Saved
10 “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.“Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.19 After being made alive, nhe went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were save through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
1 Peter 3:10-22
It was late at night. The middle of the water. The winds were kicking up. The rain was starting to fall. Peter’s muscles were starting to ache from all the rowing and his mind was clouded with thoughts and worries of the past days. And his eyes were tired.
Maybe too tired.
He saw him off in the distance. A man. Not rowing. Not floating. But walking…On the water.
“It’s a ghost!” his friend cried. But the figure responded, “Do not be afraid. It is I.”
Peter’s grimace softened. That was the voice of his teacher, his leader, his friend.
“Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water!” Peter cried.
“Come,” Jesus said.
Peter stood up—the boat rocking from his weight. He lifted his sandled foot over the edge. He took a deep breath. He placed it on the surface. Then, he pushed off.
No splash. He was standing on liquid water as if it were solid ground.
Another step. His confidence grew. Step by step he was filled with rejoicing. He was doing it. He too was walking on water.
But then, a wave. Crashing toward him with the roar of the ocean. Peter panicked. His feet sank. He was drowning! Fear came over him. Panicked ensued. He tried to tread water as the waves picked up, but it was no use. He couldn’t do it.
He needed help. He needed saving! And he called to the only One he knew could do that.
“Lord, save me!”
Jesus walked over. Calmly reached down. Pulled him out of the water.
Jesus saved him.
Fast forward twenty-some years. Peter is older. Peter is wiser. Now he wants to share with you the same wisdom that he learned. He wants you to be saved. He wants you to know your Savior. But he isn’t just talking about making sure that you know Ken the lifeguard’s name down at the local pool.
He wants you to know about your eternal Savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ. He wants you to remind you how you have been saved and/or show you how you can be saved by the exactly same Lord!
I. A Good Savior
First, Peter starts off by describing God our Savior. This is from 1 Peter 3:10. He says, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Back to school recently. Hopefully, you’ve learned your teacher’s favorite goodies. It’s a great way to get on their good side. Find out what they like and bring them a gift. Chocolates, Starbucks, iTunes gift cards. By the way, if you are want to do the same with your pastor, go ahead and grab a bag of delicious Nacho Cheese Doritos, that wouldn’t be offensive.
What does God love? Peter makes it clear. God loves good. Therefore, we are to do good.
And even if you don’t think God exists or you have a different God in mind, then you are already on common ground with Peter’s God.
Good = Good. (Deep thoughts so early in the morning, right?)
The opposite is also true. God loves good and hates evil. Look at verse 12 again, “The face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” That word “against.” It has the idea of being an opposing foes.
Think football for a moment. As ECU or UNC or State or Duke lines up against whatever ACC foe they might line up against, they are opposites. There is no love loss. They are against each other.
God is good and therefore against evil.
But not like humans are against evil. Humans are more like that friend that cheers for other teams in the ACC as long as they aren’t playing State because “I like the ACC.”
In other words, humans are ‘flaky’ on the hatred for evil.
For instance, most humans think it is wrong to text while driving. If you are driving down the road and text, they get upset, “Stop texting and pay attention you maniac!” Then, there’s a buzz. And that same person reaches into his pocket, checks her phone, smiles, and starts texting back. “But it’s ok because this text is important!”
God is not like that. He is not against some evil. He is not against most evil. He is not even “against evil unless it benefits Him.” God is always against evil all the time.
And God isn’t like the football fan who pushes up his glasses after his team gets crushed and powerlessly sighs, “We’ll get ‘em next year.” Powerless to do anything about it.
Nope. God always gets what he wants done.
EXAMPLE -- People of Noah's Time. Hundreds of thousands of people all against God. All in love with evil. All opposed to everything he stood for and all of the morals he upheld. Only 8 people--8 PEOPLE--were on his side.
That’s not good odds.
But it was no problem for God. God verses evil. A few rain clouds later. God wins.
This is God. Good loving, evil hating, and all powerful! He is the One who saves!
II. A Savior from Evildoers
Now…what does this have to do with you? How does he save you? What does he save from? Take a look at verses 13-15. Peter writes, “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.”
Peter asks a good question: “Who would harm those who do good?” In theory, the answer should be NO ONE. If you have done good, then there is no reason for anyone to harm you.
That’s not what happens in reality, is it? Here on this earth, people who do good are sometimes (oftentimes) harmed by those who do evil. The temptation is to get revenge. To repay evil for evil.
But here’s where God comes in! Because – remember what we talked about already. Remember Who it is that will harm those who harm those who harm those who do good? It’s not you it’s God. The One who is against all evil!
This is a comforting truth. For our world feels chaotic right now. Chaos and vengeance reign supreme. Hatred in Ukraine, in the middle East, in America, on our streets – in our schools. It seems like Chaos and Hatred reign!
But remember: God is still God. And he’s good. Therefore, in your hearts – set apart Christ as Lord. He still reigns. He will one day defeat evil!
Now you might be thinking. “Well…when’s that happening? Can God hurry up with that? Destroy evildoers already! I know you made a promise not to send a worldwide flood, but God, why don’t you break that promise and totally destroy all the evil people. Why don’t you get rid of everyone who’s ever done any evil at all?!”
PUMP THE BREAKS!
Do you really know what you’re asking? Do you really know what the destruction of any evildoer means for you?
III. A Savior from Ourselves
Heard that word before? If you have, how would you define it? Sometimes we say “problems” or “mistakes” or “oopsies.” But really the Greek word used for “sin” in this text means “missing the mark”! As in God set up a target that we were to aim to live our lives according to. Actions, words, and thoughts are to land on God’s prescribed mark. And remembering what we said about God being good, we know that he only prescribes actions, words and thoughts that are good.
So...If you sin and you do the opposite of the prescribed good action, then you haven’t done good. You’ve done evil.
And now, in our humans are good and can do anything they put their minds to culture, prepare for a shockwave thought: How is it that good humans are doing bad? Where does the bad come from?
Those new Coke machines in restaurants where you have over 200 flavors that you can make when you add it all up. Those are pretty cool. But, try as I might, if I head over to the Coke machine and I start looking for Pepsi, I can’t find it!
That’s because Coke comes from the Coke machine. And Pepsi comes from the Pepsi factory.
The same is true with good and evil. Good comes from good. Evil comes from evil.
The SAD TRUTH is this: If you have sinned, you are not good.
Now, I know you don’t want to hear this. No one does, but this is the most important news about yourself that every human must face. We are not good. Not God’s definition of good. We might be our definition of good. The "at least I didn’t kill anybody definition of good,” but God has much higher standards. He can’t bend for even one sin OR He himself would no longer be good!
And the SADDER TRUTH: is that we CANNOT SAVE OURSELVES. Just like Peter couldn’t pull himself out of the water, no matter what he did, so a person drowning in his own sins cannot pull himself out of sins! Not by ‘trying hard’; not by ‘doing better’; not by doing ‘good’ things. The efforts of one already stranded in the depths of his sin only result in him still being in sin!
Which leads to the SADDEST TRUTH of all. God, who loves us, has turned his face against us. His threats are now against humanity. Against us. Against me. Against you.
Therefore we need a Savior. We need someone who is standing on firm ground. We need someone who is entirely good. We need someone who is entirely God.
We need the exact Savior that Peter introduces in verse 19, “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” Safe and sound. Out of the depths of our sins, out of the wave of God’s wrath, back into God’s good graces.
Listen to how Christ did it:
1) He was put to death in the body – Jesus, who had no sin, took your sin. He became what he loathed; he punished what he loathed; he suffered for what he loathed, and he saved what he loved --- you.
He defeated sin once for all. Once for us. Once...for you.
How certain is this? Peter says, “Christ was made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison that is hell who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.”
Jesus went to hell, but not to surrendered. He went there to trash talk the devil. To tell whom he won. To declare to him, “You are a loser! Your plans have failed. I have died to save the world and I will save many! Whoever believes in me will not perish, but have eternal life!"
2) He saves us through his promises. Verse 20 explains how God bring this salvation to us. “In it (the ark) only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God."
Now normally when we think of the flood, we think of destruction. But Peter has an interesting perspective. He says the water saved 8 people. They floated on top of it and were saved.
That water from the flood, then symbolizes the waters of Baptism. Waters which don’t symbolize, but waters which really save. Look at verse 21 "Baptism now saves you also!" It saves because it holds out God’s promises. Promises that say, “You are now my child. In the name fo the Father, you are forgiven. In the name of the Son, you are washed. In the name of the Holy Spirit you are saved.”
Believe God’s promises to you in your Baptism. If you haven’t been baptized, believe that God’s promises will be true and be baptized!
And believe, not because of your own believing power OR your age OR your emotional attachment to Jesus.
Believe because of the awesome power behind Baptism. Look at the ends of verse 21-- Baptism saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. In other words, you are saved by same power that defeated death!
Now, you know death. It’s ugly. It’s scary. It’s frightening. It’s unbeatable. It’s evil.
But not to Jesus. He died and came back to life. The only One ever to do so on his own! And he is the same one who will save you from death too.
Think back to Peter. There he was drowning, flailing, scared. And Jesus reached out. With his hand to lift him up.
The truth is. You might feel just like Peter. When you consider your relationship with God, you might be flailing, drowning, scared. Know that God is reaching out for you, too. Not just with one arm, but with both – on that blessed cross.
Whether you have believed in it before OR this is a brand new concept to you, listen to the Lord’s call today.