1 Peter #19 1 Peter 5:12-14 Pacifism the Hardest Challenge


1 Peter #19 1 Peter 5:12-14  Pacifism the Hardest Challenge


We come to the end of Peter’s letter to a persecuted people.  For a fighter, it’s hard teaching.  Get hit, hit back harder. Don’t tread on me.  I will not bow down and go silently into the night.  Pacifism in the face of persecution, that’s a tough message. We are going to embrace Peter’s teaching with both arms. But first the closing of this letter.


1 Peter 5:12-14 (MSG)

 I'm sending this brief letter to you by Silas, a most dependable brother. I have the highest regard for him. I've written as urgently and accurately as I know how. This is God's generous truth; embrace it with both arms! The church in exile here with me—but not for a moment forgotten by God—wants to be remembered to you. Mark, who is like a son to me, says hello. Give holy embraces all around! Peace to you—to all who walk in Christ's ways.


Silas is most likely the same person we read of in Acts who was Paul’s companion.  Possibly Peter dictated the letter to Silas, which might explain the proper use of the Greek language in which it was written.  Peter whom scholars believe was in Rome when this letter was written was delivered by Silas.  But Silas was not just a delivery boy. Silas for a time, was Paul's right-hand man. He was present at the Jerusalem Council where the leaders recognized that salvation in Jesus' name was also for the Gentiles. He was with Paul in Philippi, where he was arrested and imprisoned with him (Acts 16:19, 25, 29). He rejoined Paul in Corinth and with him preached the gospel there (Acts 18:5; 2 Corinthians 1:19). Acts 15:32 identifies Silas as a prophet in the Church.[Reference—Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)] Silas was a well-known figure in the early church and delivering the letter adds even more authority to what was written.


The Church in exile most likely refers to the congregations in Rome.  In Revelation Rome is identified as Babylon.  Most scholars believe Rome is where this letter originated. To be remembered by you is in part a request to be prayed for.  The congregation in Rome is facing its own difficult times as Peter has explained every congregation was facing persecution. What a reminder of our solidarity with all believers and our responsibility to pray for one another that we can stand firm against those who would silence the good news.


Mark is the author of the gospel that bears his name.  Scholars believe that Mark was the actual son of Peter. It makes for an interesting insight into the gospel but we’ll save that for another time. Mark has made the rounds too and is well known.  He also sends greetings to the congregation.


Peter has written to encourage believers who are living in a time of persecution.  His guidance is as valid today as it was then.  The Church has gone through an unprecedented time of influencing the culture.  No longer is that the case.  Culturally compromised Christianity is no Christianity at all.  Though God always secures a remnant to carry the work, many who represent Jesus to the culture have utterly failed.  Our self-righteousness, infighting, scandals, hypocrisy, and abuse, are a cause for 2 generations rejecting the Church in America.  Today the Faith is not only marginalized and ridiculed but every good thing it stands for is under attack. The persecution of believers is mild right now, but it is growing more intense. The current Depart of Justice along with the FBI is reported to be targeting Catholics as violent extremists.  Our own Jesus House was forced to close its US Bank Accounts because the Bank accused the ministry of being tied to terrorist organizations. Peter is writing to us, who are experiencing persecution advising us on how to thrive in a hostile environment.


In Chapter 1 Peter wrote: we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. 1 Peter 1:3-5 (MSG)


We know how that brand-new life began. It began with God so loving the world that Jesus came and sacrificed himself to make atonement for Adam’s sin.  Through faith in Jesus that new life begins in you.  Acknowledge that you are a sinner, deterred, damaged, and destroyed relationships testify to this fact.  Believe that Jesus is the forgiver of sin and the reconciler of relationships.  Commit yourself to leaving the old way of doing life behind and living Jesus' way as His disciple.  You then ask God to accept your faith, and that’s how your brand-new life begins.  That brand-new life lived well results in eternal life, eternity lived in the presence of God. God himself keeps a careful watch on you. Your brand new life is conceived by God himself what an incredible blessing.


With this great blessing comes great responsibility.  Believers are to live a devout and holy life, an exemplary life because each one who has bent the knee to Jesus is God’s ambassador to the world.


In Chapter 2 we learned that all believers are being fitted together as living stones creating a living temple in which God dwells.  We learned that in this brand new life, we have been elevated to a position of service as God’s representatives to the world. As an ambassador, we are to live exemplary lives.  Being God’s emissaries we are to follow the laws of the lands in which we have been planted. Christians are to be model citizens in public without compromising their testimony for Christ. Jesus is held up as our example for doing life right, not compromising the mission for the comfort zone.


At the close of chapter 2 and halfway through 3 Peter moves from preaching to meddling with the husband-wife relationship within the culture.  He dares to tell us that God sees spouses as equal partners. Wives respect their husbands, and husbands love their wives. Totally counter-cultural. Peter also has an eye on evangelism. Where a spouse may not be a believer, living an exemplary life, just may win them to the faith.  Peter then summarizes the kind of public and private life believers are to exhibit: “Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that's your job, to bless” (1 Peter 3:8-9 (MSG). When you’re being persecuted for your faith our job is to bless even those who are persecuting us.  If you can remember to continually bless all others, you are living a devout and holy life  

Chapter 4 reveals that in all things we are to think like Jesus. Loving obedience to the Father's will and way was more important than His own life. We know that to live this way, having the mind of Christ we need to have a new heart and a new spirit within us.  Our other brothers and sisters call the experience by various names, but in our Holiness Family of congregations, we call it entire sanctification.  Entire sanctification is a second work of God’s grace in our lives that gives us mastery over egoism.  The first work of grace was salvation, justifying grace that pardons our sins and reconciles our relationships.  The second work of grace is heart holiness in which the Holy Spirit breaks the power of the sin nature.  No longer can the old ways hijack your best intentions, now you are empowered to choose to live out your devotion to God without an internal saboteur. Now you have the glorious freedom to choose to obey, just like Jesus.


Peter closes out the chapter with the truth that empowers you to get through everything the world can throw at you including death.  Trust God. Even when you do not have a clue, trust God.  Trust God in dire circumstances.  Trust God that He will make a way, and if persecution ends in death, He has a special place for you, Revelation 6:9 visions being very close to God because you loved Him more than your own life. Trust God that if you are being persecuted God has got you covered.


Leaders and followers in the congregation are Peter’s interest in the first half of Chapter 5.  We made the distinction that since leadership is influence every one of us is a leader. Each of us is also a follower.  Regardless of whether you are a follower or leader and often both, we are to care for one another. Caring for one another is an imitation of what God does for us, He cares for you, you care for others, and we in the church care for one another.


As Peter closes out chapter 5 we are encouraged to stay frosty.  We live in a hostile environment, we have spiritual enemies and just plain hatred from the world. It’s the same for every truly devout and holy follower of Jesus striving to live an exemplary life. We need companions in the faith to survive. Jesus told us to be wise as serpents but gentle as doves.  When you’re a sheep among wolves you need God to get you through, you need the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Pacifism is the hardest of challenges.


We are to hold on to the hope that God has great things in store for us. Nothing bad that happens to us now can compare to what God has in store for His faithful children.


You can only be a pacifist from a position of strength. You find that strength in following Jesus who left us the example and overcame it all.


Peter’s letter urges us all to be like Jesus.



Popular posts from this blog