July 18, 2021
I Peter 2:13-17
The question we will be addressing today is this: “How do we, as believers, interact with the world and the ruling authorities?”.
What is my role as a Christ follower in dealing with social issues? And, is there a time for dissent? And, if so, how do we dissent?
Share with the group what your greatest social concern is currently. Here are a few examples of current social issues: religious liberty, privacy, sexual identity, sanctity of marriage, racism, and sanctity of life.
- Is my behavior in response to today’s social issues driven by fear and pride, rather than the Spirit (some signals to look for: anger toward people, isolation from others, and dehumanizing others)?
- How can I worship in a way that begins living within the truth? Note: see below in the notes section for the 7 ways to live within the truth.
- Fear and pride in regard to social issues leads to anger and this leads to dishonor toward those who hold a different social view than we do. As we feel marginalized(when our opinion is not popular or not accepted) we can feel afraid. In our fear we tend to get mad at the other group and we tend to dehumanize them–they become the enemy.We see ourselves as good and them as bad. A gap grows. We isolate. We don’t talk to the “enemy”.Peter is telling us to say “No!” to this fear and isolation.
So, the solution is stated in I Peter 2:17: “…honor everyone, love the brotherhood, fear God and honor the emperor.”
Reflect on how you relate to others who hold different social views than you do(including the political leaders you see on TV or in internet articles). Share with the group any awareness you may have of relating out of pride or fear.
Consider praying together as a group to confess these attitudes and to ask for a deepening fear of the Lord in our lives. Also consider praying together for some of the political leaders that oppose your social values.
NOTES AND QUOTES
The Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots each had their own strategy as to how to deal with the social issues of their day.
The Essenes tactic was just to leave. They withdrew to the wilderness. They believed the second coming would come any day so they focused on being holy.
The Zealots strategy was to be as nasty as they could be so that the Romans would eventually grow weary and leave.
As you read the Bible it is amazing that Jesus is remarkably unconcerned with the issues that these groups were concerned with.
His mission was not to curb Roman rule over the Jewish people. Rather, Jesus was concerned about the hearts of people.
In I Peter 2:13-14 Peter urges us to be subject to every human institution and to do this for the Lord’s sake.
Do we submit when the government wants us to do evil? The answer is No.
One strategy that God makes clear in I Peter 2:15 is that of doing good: “…that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”.
So, offer good as a response to evil. Do not answer evil for evil.
In verse 16 God also says, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”.
Peter is talking about our freedom in Christ– our spiritual freedom. We don’t have to live by the power systems of the world any longer.
So, we steward our freedom to make God known.
An example of this is my freedom to drink alcohol. I am not free to drink as much as I want but I am free to drink alcohol. I can choose to use my freedom not to drink when I lead a college group of students. Perhaps my drinking would affect one or two or more of them in an adverse way.
So, how do we use our freedom?
Once again God, in I Peter 2:17, tells us to honor everyone, to love the brotherhood(the church), to fear God and to honor the emperor.
We are not to fear anyone. We are to fear God. Our focus and our mission will shift if we begin to fear people.
If you fear something more than you fear God it leads to trouble.
When the trouble and the issues of the world seeps into our homes we can become afraid and feel dread.
God tells us these are not the ultimate issues.
We are to fear God. In fearing God there is life, there is a sanctuary.
Don’t forget: God gets the last word on everything.
As we elevate God we will elevate others as well.
Sociologists study how people become radicalized and how they become terrorists. Those who become terrorists can be cured by encountering an act of kindness from their enemy.
So, when there is a time to dissent, what does this look like biblically?
The answer is that we live within the truth.
7 ways to live within the truth:
- Word of God: to dissent we begin by being immersed in the Word of God. It is here that I come face to face with my own heart.
- Worship: how is the quality of my worship?
- Wholeness: as we are in the Word and as we worship we realize God made us to be whole and our heart breaks over our own behavior.
- Work: we take whatever area of influence God has given us and we bring restoration to it.
- Witness: to bring God glory and to make Him known.
- Withstand: when we think about christian dissent there is a time to say no. We need to be clear and winsome in our dissent. One example of dissent is opposing abortion. We cannot dehumanize people by destroying life in the womb. Taking this stand will cost us.
- Wait: God gets the last word. There is a place for the faithful. God says: trust Me, your day is coming.
A key to lamenting a lack of wholeness is to wait.
Two believers may come to different conclusions on how to withstand. So, with a difference of opinion we cannot be smug or contemptuous. We must love the brotherhood.