Here we continue to take a look and 1 and 2 Peter, today we read through 1 Peter 2. This is not a particularly easy chapter to read, as there is some quite demanding scripture. As always, it is very encouraging, but this does contain some scripture that demands an action from us. Let’s take a look.
The chapter starts off by continuing (from the last chapter) to warn us against sin and disobedience. God has called us to do things (which actually benefit us), and He has also called us to leave some things well alone. This is not opposed to grace. We are told that we are living stones in the temple, and that we are all priests. We have a responsibility. Here is more of what is required from us in verses 11 and 12 – Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbours. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honourable behaviour, and they will give honour to God when he judges the world. As much as Jesus’ grace is enough for us, we still have a responsibility for action.
Here is a passage that, quite honestly, I would prefer it it wasn’t there. Verses 18 – 21 – You who are slaves must submit to your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. 19 For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. 20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. 21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. Now you may be reading that thinking, yes, but I am not a slave. OK, replace the word ‘slaves’ with ’employed’ and ‘master’ with ’employer’. Now it is a bit more difficult to swallow. I have had money stolen from me, and I have been very unfairly treated by employers. It is not easy to ‘suffer in silence’ and forgive. Even if we do, we love to go and tell everyone that we are doing it. This passage is quite clear and we need to get our actions in line with this, however hard that may be.
Why should we do this, what will it achieve? Verses 15 – 17 explains – It is God’s will that your honourable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. 16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. 17 Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king. If I retaliate against my previous employers, it completely erases my credibility. It is important that I do nothing wrong. If I am wronged, God will sort it out, I just need to concentrate on what God is calling me to do, not go out seeking revenge. Please note that this is not telling people not to stand up for themselves if they are being abused, it is just warning us against ruining our credibility because we react in an incorrect way against someone who has wronged us. This is a lesson for me.
One last thing in this chapter is one single verse that I use quite often. I differ to many Christians, as I believe that God wants everyone healed, and does not sit up in heaven deciding who to heal and who not to. I believe that He has already healed us, and we just need to receive that healing. The end of verse 24 supports this – By his wounds you are healed. Not will be, maybe, should be. Are. If this confuses you and you’re not sure why you are not being healed, I have just finished a series about this, take a look at ‘Why We Don’t Get Healed – Part 1‘.
I look forward to the next chapter with a certain amount of concern. I look forward to being more like Jesus, but getting there is often uncomfortable. Peter has a knack for not holding any punches.
Walk the walk. God’s power, our actions.