Genesis 1 paints a really a beautiful picture doesn’t it?
A man, newly formed, searches throughout all of creation for the perfect partner. But his work is in vain. He realizes that he doesn’t have the perfect partner. He has no one to share his life with.
Enter God. He causes the man to fall into a deep sleep. He removes one of the man’s ribs. He uses that rib to create the perfect partner. From man he created "out of man” or, as English speakers say, “Woman.”
When the man awakes, he is astonished. Mystified. He speaks her a love poem, “This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” She isn’t just another person. She isn’t just my partner. She is me. She and I are one. He holds her in his arms. She looks up at him and beams. She is pleased to call this wonderful man her leader.
Fast forward a thousands of years.
Again a man is sleeping. But it’s not because of God. It’s because of a few too many Busch Lights. He opens his eyes to watch the TV commercials on the ball game – if only his wife were more like those cheerleaders!
She’s in the other room. Literally on the phone complaining about the big oaf next door. What a fool! Why did she marry? He’s lazy, ignorant, and unattractive. She doesn’t respect him AND don’t worry, she lets him know every chance that she gets.
Suddenly, the man speaks. It’s poetic…
“Honey dear, can you get me another beer?!”
So what happened? Why the difference? How come modern marriages have fallen so far apart from the perfect union that God intended it?
The answer, or course, is sin.
Today God’s Word from 1 Peter 3 reminds us what God’s plan for marriage is. It speaks to wives about what Women of God will bring to a marriage and to husbands about what Men of God will bring to a marriage.
Scripture talks to women first in 1 Peter 3:1, “Wives, in the same way submit to your husbands.”
Immediately you see the “what” of what God calls you to do. It’s that word -- submit. It’s the same word that God used in our past two sermons on Chapter 21 Peter. Submit to the Government. Submit to your employers. Now wives are to submit to their husbands.
Remember what submit means. It deals with respect and honor. But with wives, it goes a bit farther. It is unforced. It’s not the husband’s job to make his wife submit. (And men, this is not talking to you!) The wife submits out of love.
It’s like the car turning left onto Falls of Neuse. It waits, out of love, for the pedestrian crossing the walk. Concession is necessary for things to work. Even if the car is carrying a vital organ to take up to Wake Med North and the pedestrian is a bum – concession happens. Out of love, unforced, and completely removed from one person being more important than another.
Submission then speaks of a loving, unforced concession of the leadership position to the husband.
Now, dear wives, maybe to a godly man that sounds fine. The logic is simple: He loves Jesus. He loves you. He should love you with a Jesus-like love!
But what if he is a jerk? What if he is rude? What if you are married to an unbeliever who doesn’t have your best spiritual interests in mind? Do you have to submit then?
God’s Word says this, “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”
Now certainly God’s Word doesn’t not want us to follow husbands into unbelief (or any sin). Yet it is precisely because of a wife’s faith in Christ that God wants you to submit even to an unbelieving husband. Because it is by this godly submission that the husband will notice a direct contrast to the unbelieving way of the world.
He will see it is better. He will say, “What’s the difference between my wife and my buddy’s wives? Why is she kinder? Why is she gentler? Could it be the Christian thing? Maybe I should learn more about this Jesus!”
It is clear. God’s Word tells wives to submit to their husbands.
Now when you think of it in theory. This should be easy, right? There’s an intimate relationship between husband and wife. You chose him as your husband. You love him. It should be way easier to submit to him than the government or your boss.
But how good are you at this submission thing really? Here’s a little test to see if you struggle with respecting your husband as your leader:
Women if you struggle with submission repent and turn to the one who submitted to your eternal, spiritual needs. Jesus, who was Master of the Universe, yet he submitted himself to a life on this earth. Then he submitted himself to your sins of selfishness, pride, and disrespect for your husband. He let hem overtake him and he submitted to death.
In doing so, He saved you. In Christ, you are forgiven. In Christ’s forgiveness for you sinful thoughts and attitudes as a wife, you are a WOMAN of GOD.
Be that woman of God. Verse 3 explains more: 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
About a week ago Beyonce performed at the VMAs. I didn’t see it, but I did read a review. Apparently there were stripper poles, backup dancers wearing lingerie, and songs about doing things in the back of cars with boys. Then, near the end of our performance a big LED sign lit up behind her displaying what was apparently her message – “FEMINISM.”
Really? Sexy? Lewd? That’s feminism? Bowing to society’s expectations and self consciously trying to allure men to do what you want by playing on their physical attractions? That’s power?
Do not be deceived. Scripture says to worry less about how you look and more about what’s in your heart. Instead of striving to be like Beyonce; strive to embody real, Biblical feminism. Verse 5 says this, “This is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”
How’s that for a romantic term? Not “Cutie.” Not “babe,” Not even “Love muffin.” But “Master.”
But before you throw her under the bus as “Ancient” and “old fashioned,” consider what this Old Testament patriarchess meant with such an endearing name: “Abraham, I trust you. I trust God. I’m going to ignore my pride and I’m going to ignore my selfishness and I’m going to let you be my leader.”
Wow. That’s real feminism. She defined herself not by her looks, not by her role in marriage, but by God’s love for her.
God’s Word shifts its attention to the men in the family next. Look at verse 7, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers."
The directive is simple. It’s clear: Be considerate about her. Think for her. Act for her. Love her.
Yes, you see that word about the weaker partner. The simplest and easiest way to interpret this is physically. Guys are generally strong and have bigger muscles.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? God gave the leaders the greater physical strength NOT so they can show off. Not so that they can hold it against their wives, but so that they could honor, cherish, protect, and provide for them! Ephesians 5 adds to it, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
In other words, God’s perfect plan for marriage involves a woman’s unforced, loving submission, but it also involves a husband loving leadership that submits itself to his wife’s needs.
A man is to love his wife more than his life!
But we aren’t all that good at this are we gentlemen? Men too have a problem with selfishness. We too have a problem with pride. We too have sinful attitudes that have infected the way we treat our wives.
Sometimes we don’t even love our wives more than the football game on TV.
Think if you don’t showcase these same sinful attitudes:
Men, if you do these things and have this attitude you are wrong. You are not leading your wife. You are heeding and impeding her.
Thank God Jesus wasn’t selfish. Thank God Christ didn’t get to the end of his work, to the end of his perfectly lived, perfectly obedient life and say, “Well, I’ve worked hard. I know the next part is for me to die and substitute myself to save these people – the church, but I’m not gonna. I’ve worked too hard. They’ve done nothing. It’s their sins they are in trouble for, so they can take care of it themselves.”
Instead, Christ gave up his life. He led us all the way to eternal life. Even when it means giving up his life, Christ did it because he was the perfect leader – completely submissive to his people’s needs. GOD OUR SAVIOR did what it took lead MEN to God. Now he asks you to be MEN OF GOD who do what it takes to bring your wives to God!
Be those men of God!
Do you have any collectibles at home? Maybe it’s an autographed baseball. Maybe it’s a sports card. Maybe it’s a hotrod car. Maybe it’s a PEZ dispenser. (Some collections are more manly than others.)
I’ll be you treat that collection with care. You got a case for your sports collections. A pedestal for the baseball. A full wax treatment everytime you head into the garage for your car.
Love your wives in the same way. That’s what MEN OF GOD do. They cherish their wives dearly. Put their needs before yours. Treat them like that autographed baseball that you never treat harshly and take care of them nicely. They treat their wives. Their buy their wives gifts. They give their wives hugs. They do the laundry so their wives can rest. They take them aside and whisper, “I love you!” They give everything to take care of this precious gift God has given them. The one with whom they share everything.
Men of God love your wife more than your life! Talk about romantic. That can only come from a man of God!
I want you to focus back on a phrase in verse 7. “Heirs together” Not HEIRS APART. Not heirs of SEPARATE THINGS. Heirs together.
Men and women are different. But we aren’t different to oppose each other. And, if you are married, you and your husband are different, but you aren’t different to oppose each other. You are to complement each other. To encourage each other. To walk hand and hand together till you reach eternal life.
You know – perfection. Like the Garden of Eden. United with each other. United with God.
It’s a beautiful picture again. Amen.
18 Servants, in reverent fear of God, submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.21 To this you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross,so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:18-25)
"How's work treating ya?"
I wonder what the percentage of people in America respond with the answer: “Fantastic!. 15, 10% Maybe less….and even then not all the time.
Because that's not how we normally feel about work, is it? We call it the "daily grind," "the squirrel cage," or the "treadmill." None of which are all that flattering. We complain about our bosses. We complain about long hours. We complain about bad benefits and low pay. We TGIF (Thank God it's Friday) and CTGIM (Complaining To God It's Monday).
Today we're going to talk about work. Whether you work for others, work for yourself, or are retired and work at home for fun, it's my prayer that this morning as we discuss People of God: At Work that you are reinvigorated to do your work and do it with joy!
I. How God Wants us to Work
Take a look at what 1 Peter 2 says about work. In verse 18, it says, "Servants, submit to your masters with all respect.”
When should you be a good employee? The first answer is pretty logical. We can get to it without even looking at Scripture, we can come to our first answer: When your boss is good!
Fortune 500 Magazine ranked "Google" as the top company to work for in 2014. Some of the perks: massages to help your mind energize, sleep pods to help your mind rest, 20% of your time each week devoted to pursuing your own dreams and ideas! Encouraging entrepeneurialship! It would be easy to work hard for Google. Easy to work hard for any good boss.
But what if your boss isn't so good? What if your boss is bad? What then? Surely God doesn’t expect us to work hard for those guys?
Read verse 18 again, "Servants, submit to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the unjust."
In other words, God wants you to work just as hard for the unjust as for the good boss.
Now there are a lot of different types of bad boss. There’s the Michael Scott type – who gets distracted easily and is really quite lazy. There’s the Ebenezer Scrooge type – who is fairly rude and makes you work at ½ rate for Christmas. There’s the Mr. Burns type – who is filled with greed and only wants more money at the expense of his employees.
If you have a boss who exhibits any of these TV character-like qualities, God wants you to submit to them. It doesn’t say “Substitute their real name with a demeaning nickname.” Nor does it say “Sub-standardize your skills so you don’t have to work as hard,” nor “submerse your pockets with a few free pens in order to earn your pay back” nor “submit to an afternoon of playing games on the computer, because he’s not looking!”
God’s Word simply says, “Submit. Work hard. Respect. Whether your boss is good or bad.”
Here’s the truth—anyone can happily serve a good boss. Even unbelievers! But it is extremely hard to serve an unjust and unfair boss! And that is precisely why God calls you, Christians, people of God, to do just that.
Read verse 19-20: "For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.” The point is clear.
Think about it. A good recommendation is that you should submit to your boss when you endure suffering that you deserve. It’s the right thing to do. And if your boss decides that there will be consequences for your poor work habits, that’s fine. No one’s impressed if you have your pay docked for laziness, lose hours because you aren’t showing up on time, or you are demoted for bad mouthing the boss. If you suffer for doing wrong, then you deserve it. Go back to submitting to your boss and get back in his good graces.
But what if you don’t deserve it? Then should you submit? What if you are blamed for a project that failed because a coworker didn’t complete his work on time? What if your boss is upset with home life and takes it out on you? What if you don’t get a promotion because the boss thinks the person who just got the promotion is better looking OR more popular than you?
God’s Word is still clear: SUBMIT. Work hard. Resepct.
This is a gracious thing! A commendable thing to God because it is motivated in love…undeserved love, yes…but love none the same. Especially when this service is, look at verse 19, “mindful of God.” When you continue to submit to a boss out of love for the LORD (not necessarily out of love for your boss, but love for the Lord) this is commendable before God!
So…how commendable have you been lately? Do you think God would be impressed with your work ethic? Is he happy with your attitude toward your boss? If you are retired or unemployed, is he happy with the effort you are putting forth in using your God given talents to serve your family? If you are in school, would God be impressed with the effort you put forth on your grades and the respect you show your teachers?
If you are human – and like me – I know the answer. “No.”
Yep. Even pastors are NOT PERFECT. We sin too. I sin too. I get overwhelmed by requests, I get tired, and I immediately play the blame game. I get lazy. I am tempted to ignore things that need to get done.
That’s not commendable at all.
If you have done this too, then you have something to confess, as well. If you want to confess sinful, lazy, vengeful, greedy, spiteful and selfish attitudes and actions at work, then join me. Join me right now in turning to the One, the only One, whose work was completely commendable to God – Jesus Christ.
II. Christ = A Great Example of a Great Worker
Now besides a boss, someone that can just as easily ruin a work experience is a client. Whether that client is an angry customer at McDonalds or an overbearing, complaining guy on the jobsite – bad clients make life hard for those who work for them.
Christ’s boss was God. He’s an awesome boss. But look who the clients were that he was called to work for: In verse 21, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”
Did you see it? Christ worked for us! You were his client.
And here’s the deal, those 4 bad qualities of a bad boss that we mentioned earlier, we have every one of them. Think about your relationship with God, aren’t we:
· Unthankful – I’m glad I am where I am in life. I have no one else to thank for it. No really. I’m the only one responsible.
· Lazy – God won’t you take care of this! I know I just have to do what your word says, but I’m too lazy to deal with it.
· Rude – God. Leave me alone. I don’t need you. I don’t need your word. Back off!
· Vengeful – God I can’t believe this happened. I’m upset with you. I’m angry with you. I’m blaming you!
We are probably some of the worst clients that anyone could ever have. We would probably quit working for us!
But not Jesus. He didn’t let the fact that we are ungrateful, selfish, vengeful, rude clients stop Him from doing his job.
In fact, nothing stopped him. Even when his work become most difficult: 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. In other words, he went about his work, perfectly, loving, without any sinful action or any sinful attitude! Amazing.
He did so even when the attacks were directly at him. Read the next verse, when he was reviled, he did not revile in return. When he was made fun of by the very people he came to serve – “Blasphemer! Fraud! Rebel! Phony!” Jesus could have legitimately called back: “Sinner! Adulterer! Jerk!” But he didn’t. He remained silently going about his work.
It continues, “When he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” When he was slapped, beaten with rods, crowned with thorns, whipped, and even crucified – he didn’t call down fire or threaten to open the earth and swallow his captor, he simply entrusted himself to His God and his God’s task for him.
Jesus did this until he completed his task.
Now I’ve had jobs before that are really difficult. Like a couple of months ago I was working on a puzzle. It was hard. I couldn’t tell if the pieces I was holding were for grass, a bush, or a bunch of pine trees. So…I QUIT.
Jesus didn’t do that. Scripture says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
Healed. That’s past tense. It means his job was completely and perfectly completed. It isn’t even if he got it mostly finish and then said, “You guys finish it up.” NOPE! Jesus completely finished his work .
But that’s not all. Because his work directly affect you. You aren’t partially healed. You aren’t partially forgiven. Through faith in Jesus, you are fully and completely healed and forgiven.
It’s as if Jesus had one of those check lists that janitors have in the bathroom making sure they do everything they are supposed to. It would look something like this:
Sins of laziness forgiven? CHECK. Sins of hatefulness? CHECK. Sins of gossip? CHECK. Any and every sinful attitude completely paid for? CHECK. Peace established between God and humans? CHECK. Heaven paid for? CHECK. And DOUBLE CHECK!
Jesus is a great example of a great worker! He is an example for us and also our motivation. Therefore, Verse 24-25 tell us how to do that immediately: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness…For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
3 Things God wants you to do to serve him:
1) Die to sin. Get rid of hatred for your work. Get rid of selfishness and laziness in any and all work that you do.
2) Live righteously. Keep God in your mind while you work – at your job, at home, at school, searching for a job! Keep God in mind and view each day as a chance to bring Him glory with your attitude and actions.
3) Know your Shepherd. Know that he watches over you.
A shepherd has hard work. He has to watch and take care of sheep. Sheep that are stubborn. Sheep that don’t listen. Sheep that don’t know what’s best for them.
Yet with the Shepherd at work, the sheep are confident. They don’t worry. They don’t fret. They just go about their work – which for sheep – is eating and growing wool.
It’s the same with you. Your Great Shepherd is at work. He is watching over you. So be at peace. Be confident. In spite of what you might encounter in your work, be confident that the Lord is at work for you! It’ll change your whole attitude.
Angry protests. Tens of arrests. Molotov cocktails. Smoke bombs. Tear gas. Riot Gear.
Nope, we’re not talking about gang violence. We’re talking about people desiring political change. And I’m not just talking about ISIS, Ukraine, or parts of Gaza. But even the heartland of America – Ferguson, MO has turned to violence to get answers.
Is this the way to deal with political problems? Is this the way to get answers from the government?
If it is, don’t you think we Christians should get to marching? Certainly you could make the case that government is turning against Christian values. There is a fear out there that this is not as Christian a nation as it used to be and it’s just plain harder to be a Christian than it used to be.
So should we join the trend? Do we need to make up degrading signs and march around the city? Shall we mix up some Molotov cocktails to throw at the limousines of government workers who vote against Christian values? Maybe we should break church early and go load up on assault rifles, take a Humvee to D.C. and attack the White House in the name of God?
Before we start a rebellion, let’s check to see what our leader wants us to do. When it comes to the government, you’ll find some of his marching orders in 1 Peter 2:13. Read it with me what the LORD inspired the apostle Peter to write, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority.”
1. What To Do.
Look at verse 13 again. It says, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority.” We see that word “submit” and immediately think that there must be some kind of mistake. It should probably read “Sub…merge yourself in armor so that you can quickly attack the government,” or, “Sub…stitute your own ideas when you don’t like the ideas that the government has.” The Holy Spirit must have made a mistake.
Not so much. The Holy Spirit is God. He’s perfect. There is no mistake here.
Besides, this is not the only time submission to the government is listed in the Bible. It is repeated in Romans 13 “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities.” It is a theme showcased by Daniel as he respectfully refused to pray to the King Darius. It is a theme lived out by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as they respectfully refused to bow down to a statue of the King of Babylon It is a theme modeled by Jesus himself as he dealt with Pilate. It is a theme of peace and respectful disagreement.
Peter repeats this theme and makes it more specific.
He says, first, to submit to the emperor or to those who rule. At the time Peter wrote this he was referring to the Roman emperor. An emperor who was non Christian. An emperor, who soon, would hate Christians and violently put them into jail.
What about us? We don’t have a king or an emperor. We have a president, a governor, and congress. You know…the people that our society and media encourage us not to submit to.
Those are the ones God encourages us to submit to.
Second, it says submit to those who punish. For first century Christians, this meant the governor. Think Pontius Pilate the guy in charge of crucifying Jesus. For us, it refers to police officers, the military, even judges. From the comical Judge Judy to the royal Supreme Court Justices.
Finally, it says submit to those who commend or praise those who do right. Think of the DMV who rewards you by not imposing fines on you if you keep the speed limit or the IRS who rewards you with tax breaks for installing eco friendly lighting throughout your home.
Submit to any and every authority on earth!
Notice that it doesn’t say, “Submit to every republican authority,” nor does it say, “submit to every democratic authority,” nor does it say, “submit to every authority that you agree with.” There is no difference to God. Authority is there because God placed it there.
But what if they do really, awful, anti-Christian things? What if they bad mouth God? What if they are unbelievers? …What if I don’t like them!
Think about this: If you have a boss that you like who is going on vacation and while he’s gone he puts someone else in charge. If you don’t like them, you might not listen to them. When your boss returns and asks why, you might say, “I didn’t like him being in charge. He was a bad choice.”
Who are you really complaining about? The guy in charge or the guy who put the guy in charge?
When we complain against the government, who are you really complaining about? The guy in charge or the guy who put the guy in charge?
Listen again to what Peter wrote: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority.” Not “Because I agree with them,” Not “Because they speak well.” Not “Because they hold my political perspective.” Submit to them because of God!
But shouldn’t the government have to submit to God?
Yes. Of course. They are to govern justly, fairly, and right in God’s eyes. If they don’t, they’ll have to answer to God.
But this section isn’t talking to the government. It’s talking to you. Don’t try to make it about the government. God’s Word today says, “Submit to the government out of reverence for God because God placed them in charge and he wants you to submit to them.”
When you think about it that way, it changes things. Because while a particular government official might not care much about you personally and your issues, God does. In fact, he cared so much about the biggest and deepest issue that you have – the issue of sin – that He came down to earth in order to save you from that sin. He personally –as the Almighty King above—walked into the fire of the problem. He took on sin and he defeated it for us with his death on the cross.
Talk about love!
By the way, He didn’t die for you to abandon you and stop loving you. Instead, He still cares for you – even through His choice of government. All He asks is that you trust Him.
2. But Why Do It this Way?
You might be asking, “OK, fine that’s what God wants. He wants me to submit to the government. But why? Why would God want us to do that? How can we have a Christian society if we don’t hostilely take over the things that aren’t Christian and make them Christian! Crusades style!”
Listen to God’s reasoning. In verse 14 it says, “It is God’s will that…you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.” Because the truth is that there are a lot of unChristian views of the world. Both the Republican and the Democratic party have been fused with sinful ideas and attitudes.
God’s goal is to silence those. It is to turn off mouths, turn on minds, and open hearts to hear the message of Jesus. 1 Timothy tells us, “God our Savior wants all humans to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” That includes political parties, government officials, even that guy at work who thinks differently than you on political issues!
But listen to how God accomplishes silencing these mouths. He says, “by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.”
Unfortunately, that’s not how Christians usually read this verse. I fear that instead of trying to silence others with our actions, we usually to silence them with louder foolish talk.
That doesn’t work.
Sometimes the preschoolers get to talking at lunch. They get to talking and making funny noises that are so loud they totally forget to eat lunch. So – what I tried once was to make louder and sillier noises! I thought it would shock them into being quiet and eating their food.
That was probably one of my worst ideas of all time.
Why? It wasn’t quieter – it was louder. My voice added to the noise and they simply raised their voices in order to be heard!
Here then is the truth: Louder foolish talk doesn’t silence foolish talk. It just makes more noise. Think about how that works in America today. We think:
But here’s the scariest part. The devil loves angry words – especially when they come from Christians. He uses them to cloud an unbeliever's judgment. He uses angry words to say, “That Christian is a jerk and so is their Christ. What would I want to do with their Jesus?” He uses these words to harden an unbeliever's heart.
He uses you to harden an unbeliever’s heart.
Instead, deal differently with people. Respond to hateful political talk with loving actions. “It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.”
Think of Jesus. The Pharisees and teachers of the Law bring Jesus to Pilate. They accuse him of being a rebel and inciter of hatred. They tell Pilate that Jesus is a danger to the Roman empire. They tell Pilate Jesus is a danger to his job. They tell Pilate that Jesus needs to die.
But Jesus didn’t throw the Pharisees under the bus. He didn’t call them names. He didn’t attack Pilate for being a pansy who didn’t stand up to the angry crowd of his citizens.
He remained silent. He remained gentle. He spoke patiently and lovingly to Pilate. He walked to his own death.
Why? Because Jesus always had his goal right. His goal was dealing with sin. His goal was saving you from your sin. His goal was winning for you eternal salvation at all costs – even if it cost Him a chance at political power! (Something that was never really on his mind in the first place.)
The point? Make your minds like Jesus’ mind. Make the salvation of others the most important part of your conversations – not Christian political power – but Christ’s power. Not a kingdom on earth – but the kingdom of heaven. Not Jesus’ reign in America – but Jesus’ reign in your neighbor’s heart.
Then, imitate Jesus. And perhaps your neighbor will begin to think, “You know, I used to think Christians are a bunch of judgmental, bigoted jerks. But…maybe Christians aren’t so bad. I like how kindly and nicely they have spoken to me about their differing opinions on politics. I’d like to hear more.”
Live lives of love. Silence foolish talk. Share Jesus.
3. How Do we Do it This Way
This is all easier said than done. The normal human reaction to vengeful words is to speak vengeful words back. How can sinful human people like us ever be expected to overcome our sinful attitudes and respond with graciousness?
Listen to God’s reminder: “Live as free people.” (v16)
Focus on that word ‘free.’ Remember this was written to Christians living under the Roman Empire. They weren’t free. So that word “free” isn’t referring to being in political freedom of democracy like we Americans are today.
What does it refer to?
Jesus said this at the start of his ministry, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim…freedom for the prisoners.” (Luke 4:18) But Jesus spoke to more than just prisoners. He spoke to merchants, market workers, farmers, fishermen, even church workers.
That’s because Jesus wasn’t proclaiming political freedom. He was proclaiming spiritual freedom. This is why he went from human to human proclaiming, “Your sins are forgiven. You are free from your sins.”
This is the same freedom Jesus speaks to you hear today. “Believe in me. Trust in what I’ve done. I have freed you from your sins. I died as a ransom that you would be released from your sins, from their eternal consequences, and from guilt…forever! Sin no longer rules you, I do!"
Think about it. Without Jesus, sin would rule over us. When people disagreed with us politically, sin would tell us to call them names. When the government upset us, sin would tell us to complain. When the president did something we didn’t like, sin would tell us to curse Him!
But Jesus freed you from that! Sin no longer rules over you. You are free! And how you use that freedom is of the utmost importance to God. Verse 12 says, “Do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; but live as God’s servants.”
If you were a slave under a tyrannical empire, waiting in solitude, gloom, and pestilence to be set free for years, then you are set free as an opposing army breaks the power of the empire. Would it make any sense…any sense at all to say, “I’m free! So I’m going to find that tyrannical leader and ask him, if he can mistreat me and I can be his slave again!”
Of course not! Why then would you return to sin and evil after having been set free from it!?
Instead, remember who rules you. It isn’t sin. It’s Jesus, your Lord of love.
This means you don’t have to listen to your sinful desires. They aren’t in control of you.
Peter concludes with a final imperative for the People of God. In verse 13 he writes, “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”
Think about what Peter is saying as he lists ways of honoring God. Honoring Government = Honoring God.
But it isn’t as if the Spirit isn’t calling us to battle. He is. Just with different weapons: the Sword of the Spirit. The helmet of salvation. The love of Jesus.
Stage a rebellion then. In America – in Raleigh – start a rebellion with God’s Word. Use it. Live it. Share it.
(Thanks to Guest Speaker --- Seth Neyhart)
1 PETER 2:9-13: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10) Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11) Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12) Live such good lives among the pagans, that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
My fellow Christians:
Who are you? What are you? What are you doing here? Why are things happening the way they are?
As human beings, we have a tendency to let the things happening in our everyday life to disturb, distract, and divert our attention. We think about what we have to do in order to get through the day, we react to what just happened, and forget to see things in the bigger picture.
Or we can go to the opposite extreme where, for whatever reason, we neglect to take care of what we need to do at work, at home, in our families. Sometimes we feel ground down, overwhelmed. Maybe we feel we are being taken advantage of or we can’t accomplish anything because of forces outside of our control. We just can’t seem to care anymore or get ourselves to take care of what we need to do. We don’t see our lives as having any really great meaning, purpose, or point.
Today, we want to listen as Peter reminds us of who and what we really are, a people chosen by God. Your life has meaning and importance because God chose you. God chose you to belong to Him. God chose you to receive His mercy. God chose you to live in His glory.
Peter starts our section with four phrases. He calls us: “A chosen people”, “a royal priesthood”, a “holy nation”, and in conclusion, a “people belonging to God.” All four of these phrases have their separate shadings of meaning, but taken together, they have one clear message: God chose you, each and every one of you here today, to belong to Him and to be part of His kingdom. And because God chose you, and only because God chose you, you are part of a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people belonging to God.
When Peter wrote: “you are a chosen people,” this was not a new concept to his first audience. The early Christians knew that just as the nation of Israel was called God’s chosen people in the Old Testament, in the very same way all the believers in Jesus Christ were chosen by God to be part of the kingdom of heaven.
And not just any part. We are also called a “royal priesthood.” We are not just subjects of the kingdom of heaven, we are also called priests. Not just me or the Pastor, and not just a certain select “special” advanced group of Christians among us. No, Peter says that every single Christian is a priest, and together we are all a “royal priesthood.”
When is the last time you thought about yourself as a priest? What does that mean, anyway?
In verse five, we heard about Peter telling us to be a “holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Now this does not mean that we offer sacrifices to appease God or pay for our sins. That has already been accomplished by the ultimate High Priest, Jesus Christ. Because he lived a perfect life as a human and died on the cross as God to pay for all the evil we have ever done and all the failures we have ever had, and we are now able to do the work of priesthood.
Now as a priest you have not only the right but also the duty and privilege to reflect the holiness of God in your life and offer spiritual sacrifices of yourself, your heart, your mind, your body, your time, and your love. You the right, duty and privilege to pray directly to God, not only for yourself, but also for others. You have the right, duty, and privilege to speak about God and what he has done. All because you are a priest.
And not just a priest, you are part of a “royal” priesthood. We are together priests serving in the kingdom of God. And that is why Peter also calls us a “holy nation.” A nation consists of citizens under one government in a specific geographic area with defined borders. There are common laws, and usually a common language and culture. Citizens of the “holy nation” also have a common language and culture, the language and culture of faith. Our first loyalty, our first allegiance is to God. In life, and through death into everlasting life in heaven, we are all members of a holy nation. And our fellow citizens are all around us.
Finally, because God chose you to belong to Him forever, you are part of “a people belonging to God.” This is your identity. This is who you are, forever. God chose you, and you are His.
But why? Why did God choose you? Why did God choose me? It was not because God needed us. It was not because we are somehow better than anyone else. It was not because we had an inside connection. No. God chose you to receive His mercy. Peter says: “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
From death to life, from darkness to light, from unbelief and destruction to faith and eternal glory, all of it is because of God’s mercy. What you are now is so much greater than what you were, because God chose you to receive His mercy.
It began before the world was even created. God says in Ephesians 1:4-5 “he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” God chose you back then, before the world began.
And in his mercy, God created your ancestors and through them, he brought you into being. He provided this world as a home and a place to provide for all of your physical needs.
After sin and evil came into the world, God gave you and me His Son, Jesus Christ, to restore our relationship to Him. Jesus sacrificed Himself for us, first by living a perfect life that we could not and offering His perfect life as a divine substitute for our failures. By dying on the cross, Jesus wiped out everything that we have ever done to offend God solely out of His love for us, earning us eternal life in heaven. And finally, the Holy Spirit has created faith in us, solely out of God’s mercy.
The more you think about it, the more humbling it is. God chose you to receive His mercy. Without it, you could not be part of God’s people. Indeed, there would be no “God’s people” at all!
For the truth is, no one can do this by themselves. No one can qualify on their own to be part of the holy nation. But because of what God did for you, in you, and through you to others, you, all of you, are the people of God, chosen, set apart, destined for heaven. God chose you to receive His mercy forever.
God’s choice of you, God’s mercy to you, are from eternity and for eternity. Which means God’s choice also has a huge impact on the life you live here and now. In the last two verses we read today, Peter sets out two themes about how God’s people live. For the rest of the epistle, Peter will go into details, but first, he gives us two general principles. Peter says: “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." 1 Peter 2:11-12.
God chose you to belong to Him, God chose you to receive His mercy, and in this life as well as the next, God chose you to live in His glory. While we are here living our lives, Peter says that in God’s mercy we do two things. First, we always strive to avoid what is evil and second, we live for what is good. Because we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, we act as aliens and strangers to what wrong in this world. The sinful desires we all have war against our souls because they war against God. We do our best to abstain from giving in to them, because we are not of the world, we are God’s chosen people chosen to live in His glory.
Instead, Peter tells us, “live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of wrong, they may see your good and glorify God on the day he visits us.” As we work through some of the many examples of that in the weeks ahead, remember we lead our lives the way we do because God chose us to and God wants us to. God chose you to belong to Him, God chose you to receive His mercy. And God chose you to live in his Glory, now and forever. The choice has been made. God will not change his mind. Amen.
Last week, we heard that God wants his people to hungry for his Word. That’s why we issued the Gospel of Mark challenge. If you took part, great! Keep it up and choose another part of God’s Word for this upcoming week. If not, go ahead and read through Mark this upcoming week.
Today we ask the question: Why? Why does God want us to feed our faith with his Word? What’s his endgame? What’s he getting at?
I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention outside next to the Preschool fence, but a couple of months ago big pieces of wood started to appear. Heavy beams. 2x4s and 2x6s. Even some OSB Plankwood. Maybe if you saw it, you thought: “What’s that for? What are they going to do with that stuff?”
If you look outside now, you’ll get your answer. Those pieces of wood – all different sizes, different types – have become a shed for the kids to put their toys in.
Today God’s Word tells us that God is interested in building something, too. It’s why He is so interested in you growing your faith through his Word. Today we’ll learn about God’s special building project as it is described in 1 Peter 2 beginning at verse 4, “As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him-- you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
1. The Builder
First things, first we’ve gotta identify is who it is that is building the house described in verses 4-5. Take a look at verse 4. It tells us that in this pile of materials is a "Living Stone…Chosen by God.” Again in verse 5 “living stones are being built through Jesus Christ.”
These verses are kind of like one of those signs that is posted on the corner of a construction site. It tells you who it is that’s at work just in case you ever want to hire them for business. It also tells you if you think you’re gonna like what they are building. “The Professional Mansion Building Lawfirm” is a more reliable name than “CheapoHouseRUs.”
Listen to who is at work in those verses. It’s God! The divine Lord of heaven and earth. The Creator who creator the heavens and the earth in 6 days—forming the deepest seas on one day and the highest mountains on another. There is no greater and more reliable construction company on earth.
God’s in charge – so you know it’ll be good.
2. The Materials
Especially considering his resources! He could use some the shiniest gold and gorgeous silver. He could use diamonds and rubies. The rays of the sun. The glistening surface of a waterfall. The nearly perfect colors of a rainbow. With all of those materials at his disposal in unlimited quantity, it’s bound to be beautiful!
So what kind of materials did he use?
…as in, you believers, as in you people gathered at this Lutheran church here in Raleigh, NC, you "…are being built into a spiritual house.”
Are you impressed with God’s choice in materials?
Now maybe you are a pessimist and maybe you are thinking, “Really God? Us? We are a mismatched bunch here. We are sinners who, while we believe we are saved through Jesus our Savior, we still struggle with sin. We struggle with addiction, greed, and lust. We gossip, betray, and struggle to forgive. Sometimes we are lazy. Other times we are fearful. Personally, I’m not feeling like I’m that great of a speaker or that good at telling people about Jesus. God, there are probably better people to build your house with. Shouldn’t you go use them?”
God – you may have made a foolish choice in materials.
But is God foolish? Doesn’t he know what he’s doing? Didn’t we just get done saying He is an awesome builder? Yes, sin ruins things. Yes, we are sinners. But didn’t Jesus die for our sins? And haven’t you heard this message to make you believers in the truth?
And having heard the truth, aren’t you a part of his building?
Look at what Scripture says. He calls you “All those who have come to him, believers, are like living stones.” Stones are powerful and sturdy, but aren’t alive. Living things are personal and breathing, but they eventually die.
Living stones? How cool is that? It’s the best of both worlds.
Think about things that are living. We were dead in our sins, but God made us alive with Christ! He forgave us all our sins. Now we live because of him.
And we live, not to be carbon copies of each other, but we have variety. We have character. We have personalities. One that is outgoing. One that is introspective. One that is musical. Another that is athletic. Still another that is artistic, right along one that is creative.
God’s building materials are living. Each one alive with its own personality!
And they are stones. Isn’t that an interesting choice? God doesn’t call us bricks. Bricks would each be the same size. The same color. They are made to match, a uniform house or wall perfect for a very specific subdivision.
God calls us stone. Stones are always different. Some bumpy. Some lumpy. Some long. Some short. Darker, lighter, jagged, rough around the edges.
Doesn’t that describe this collection of human beings right here? We are so very different. Different ages, different cultures, different backgrounds – yet together, we make up God’s beautiful spiritual house!
3. The Purpose
Now God didn’t just build us into a wall just for kicks. There is a purpose to what He has built just like any building has purpose.
The new Walgreens that just went up on Falls of Neuse is so that people can quickly and easily gets prescription medications at all times of the day. North on Six Forks there are a bunch of new apartments that just went up. The purpose of those buildings are to house people. There’s a Fitness Center being put in just south of 540. The purpose of that building is to provide a place to get in shape – or --- if you’re like me – a place to buy an expensive membership to that you will never use.
God has given his spiritual house purpose too. Take a look at verse 5 "to offer spiritual sacrifices to God.”
In the Old Testament, the building that offered people a chance to do this was the Temple. Beautiful too. Whether it was the first gold enlaced building of Solomon’s or the rebuild at the hands of the Remnant, the temple was beautiful.
But it wasn’t long after Peter wrote this very letter that the second building was torn down. Another Jewish temple was never to be built again. There is no building there anymore.
No matter. God’s temple for offering spiritual sacrifices is right here. He also isn’t asking you to go and grab a farm animal and give it up for him.
No. God wants you to give up your very self to him. To worship him in all you do. To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
Now, you might be concerned right about now. Because maybe you haven’t done a good job worshipping Christ in every aspect of your life. Perhaps you think, “I didn’t know I was apart of this spiritual house.” There are certain things I do that definitely wouldn’t qualify me for being part of that house.
But take a look at verse 5. Peter reminds us that our sacrifices are acceptable to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. (v.5)
Do you sing a little off key in church? Do you lack the organizational skills to become a member on the Council? Do you give only a few dollars a week to the Lord? Do you prepare a Sunday School lesson that falls l a little flat? Do you struggle to get the kids to come to church and struggle even more to get them to stay in church? Do you struggle to find the right words to say when you speak up for Jesus among your friends?
You may not wow the crowds of people here at Gethsemane. But done with faith in Jesus, you’ve wowed God.
You see God looks at your lives kind of like a dad who just got a coloring picture from his kids. The house is five different colors, there are scribbles all over it, and sometimes it goes outside the lines. Yet God is thrilled. With you as a believer in his spiritual house, he is pleased with all of your Christian living done for him!
4. The Foundation
But that doesn’t mean it won’t get hard. That doesn’t mean that as a congregation we won’t struggle to do God’s Will. It doesn’t mean that sin won’t rear it’s ugly head. It doesn’t mean that jealousies won’t infect our work together. It doesn’t mean that the outside world won’t make life hard for Bible abiding Christians.
That’s when it’s important to remember who our foundation is.
Look at verse 6, “I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.”
There are two words for stones in those verses. The first is a cornerstone. The cornerstone is the first stone laid by the mason. It needs to be set just right, because all of the other walls and every other brick will be based off of the measurements of that stone.
The cornerstone is important it keeps everything straight.
Then you see the Word “capstone.” The capstone was used in building arches. Back in Roman times, you’d build the archways using a wooden frame and then carefully building up the arch using bricks lined up next to the frame. When you reached the top, there’d be that stone. Curved. Placed directly in the middle. It counteracts the wait of both sides and holds the walls up.
The cornerstone is important because it holds everything up!
Who is the cornerstone in this house? Did you figure out who this cornerstone is? It’s not the pastor. It’s the elders. It’s not the "guy who's been here the longest.” It’s not Martin Luther OR Peter OR Paul.
It’s none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
Peter calls Jesus "rejected by men…" In verse 7 he calls Jesus, “rejected.” Isn’t that exactly what the Pharisees and teachers of the law did? They despised this Jewish carpenter who was telling them what to do? They hated being told they were wrong. They couldn’t believe he could be the Messiah without the Pharisaical upbringing that they had so…
They rejected him. Like the builder who tosses aside a dusty, crumbling old stone as a terrible choice for the foundation, they tossed Jesus aside as worthless.
Some people still do that today: “Jesus is a myth.” “He’s not real.” “He’s archaic.” “His teachings are bigoted.” “His stuff doesn’t matter enough for me to build my life on him!”
Rejected. Rejected then. Rejected now.
But though humans reject Him, God chose him. God – remember – the One who is awesome at building eternal building – He chose Jesus.
In fact, God found him precious. He didn’t look at the exterior. He didn’t see some meek carpenter.
Instead, he saw his holy and perfect Son. He saw Jesus Christ a Mighty Lord and Savior. He saw one who did not sin. He saw one whose innocent death would be the foundation and very reason that we are built into God’s spiritual house. He is the one who died, but could not remain destroyed. He went down into the fires of hell laughing at the Devil for his failed attempts at defeating him. He rose from the dead –eternal, incredible, Victorious!
And Jesus saves the rest of God’s house from shame. Take a look at verse 6 again, “I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
It’s as if God’s cornerstone is so incredible, so beautiful, so glorious and majestic that the other less majestic, less beautiful, less glorious pieces – us – can’t even be spoken against!
This is huge. Because people will mock you. For belonging to a church, they will make fun of you. They will call you a bigot, a fool, and an arrogant person.
But you’ve got Jesus on your side. When people oppose you, they oppose Him. And when they oppose him, well, listen to verse 8, "A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. They stumble because they disobey the message--which is also what they were destined for."
You see no one can topple Jesus. No one can make him crumble. With him as our foundation, our cornerstone, our capstone, we will not fall either. Not to people. Not to the devil. Not to our own sinful natures. Not even to death.
Until one day. One day we enter the gates of heaven. A spiritual house. No longer temporal, but eternal. No longer sin ridden, but perfect. No longer opposed, but glorified.
Sometimes buildings have plaques of dedication. Built in 1995 by “so and so.” Dedicated to “So and So.” Even church buildings have plaques, “Dedicated to the Lord.”
Brothers and sister, may this spiritual house – not the building – our fellowship of believers – be dedicated to the Lord. May we serve him in all that we do. May we offer spiritual sacrifices in Jesus. May we continue to be build on this foundation.– stone by stone—brick by brick—person by person—believer by believer.
If you are musical, join in singing praises at our worship service.
If you are mechanical, join in helping to build the shed or maintaining the lawn.
If you are outgoing, help us with outreach at Duke and inviting people to Back2Church Sunday.
If you are caring, please keep us in your prayers.
If you are good with kids, please help teach Sunday School.
If you aren't in a church, join one and work together with your fellow stones to keep serve the Lord!
If you are something – use it to build God’s house! Join believers and work together for the Lord!
It is a privilege to be built into God’s spiritual house. To you God, the ultimate builder, may this building be dedicated! Amen.