‘The People of God: Submit, not Submerge’ audio (4MB)
1 Pet 2:11-3:12
This first letter and this passage is a very clear and powerful summary of Christian belief and practice isn’t it? But its also long isn’t it, I really struggled trying to tackle everything in this in one talk, but I’m going to try without glossing over too many things.
So lets get into it. If you haven’t got your Bible open, and perhaps you would like to do that so you can follow along.
In this passage, Peter is appealing to his readers, it’s an appeal to us and what’s his appeal? The central verse I want to focus on this morning is v.17. How does this fit with the topic of ‘Submit not Submerge? The way I see it, Peter breaks it down into these 3 areas, Submit to God, Submit to Authority and Submit to each other. And I hope that through this talk I am able to explain a little of each but also show how in the end, we aren’t doing 3 separate things, but only one.
The core of this passage lies, as it does with the whole Bible, in whether or not we will voluntarily submit ourselves to God. When we become believers, we become God’s people on earth. His people to tell others about him, to explain his will and to live the way he wants us to.
So when Peter explains to us that we are to submit to authority, and that we are to submit to one another, Peter is telling us that we need to submit to God. It is because of our faith in Jesus that Peter says in verse 11 that we are aliens and strangers in this world, and as such we need to be living lives that are innocent and blameless among unbelievers, so that if we are accused of something, our lives will speak for themselves and God will be glorified to them.
And so Peter appeals to his readers, he appeals to us saying if we are to do this we need to submit to God by submitting to authority and each other firstly submitting to authority. And he begins this appeal in a very strong fashion, look at how he starts off in verse 13 ‘Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake!’
Again, the core of this message is submission to God! It doesn’t matter who’s in power over us, it’s not he person creating the policies, the person giving us all work, the person in control of how much overtime or how much leave we receive.
It’s not the teachers giving us homework, or controlling how much recess time we have or how difficult the exams are. In the end its not them who you are submitting to, but to God!And Paul agrees when he says in Romans 13:1-2 that all authority, whether at school dealing with teachers, coordinators and principles or at home dealing with parents, all authority is placed there by God.
Whether at the work place dealing with bosses and supervisors who may or may not care for you? Your submission to them, or not, reflects on God.
See in verse 18 - 20. We aren’t slaves I know, but we do have bosses, those we answer to. And Peter is appealing to us, saying we need to be submissive to them, we need to respect them as the authority God has placed over us.
I also know that most of us wont be working for Christian bosses, so we need to be aware that how we act towards them, reflects God and who he is. And if we have immoral, unjust supervisors, Peter calls us to endure, to not repay them in kind.
To endure because that is to our credit, but how is it to our credit to endure reprimands we deserve? How does that reflect on the God we profess to follow?
We are called to this not by an unfair God, but by Jesus himself who suffered wrongly and endured it at the hands of authorities and he committed no sin in reaction. v 22 - 25. What other authorities are there in our lives? For the Lord’s sake, submit yourselves to every authority instituted among men.’
Where do we stand in regards to the authority in our lives? Because Jesus has made it clear to us how we need to respond to it. And Peter makes it clear that in submitting to authority, we are submitting to God. Titus 3:1 is another reminder of its importance.
This brings us to the next part of the passage, Peter’s third appeal, submitting to one another. And depending on circumstances it can either be easier or harder than submitting to authority.
For obvious reasons, this is a hard part for me to talk about. I don’t have a wife, I’ve never experienced the issues and circumstances that come with a marriage, except from a child’s point of view. I also know that there are women here who come to church each week, and its an odd day when their husbands join them in church, for whatever reason, maybe they don’t share your faith, or maybe they do, but don’t make it the priority that you do. And I know that there may be husbands who are in the same position. Or maybe, maybe, both husband and wife do come to church each Sunday but its more real for one of you than for the other and that causes friction as well.
Well Peter has something to say to both spouses in these few veres, if you’d like to read with me, chapter 3:1-6.
I don’t necessarily know how husbands and wives feel about passages like this, I know I feel a bit strange when God says men should be the head of the house, and so I can imagine that others do as well, but it always makes me feel better when I remember that its a two way deal - wives submit, husbands respect and be considerate.
God loves both husband and wife equally, and its for his sake that we need to step up to the responsibility he has given us. And its so much easier when we remember that it is for God we do this, and out of the love we hold for each other.
Peter has two things to say to women and I think all women can benefit from his words regardless of whether or not you’re married yet:
One, be submissive to husbands...this is even touchier than being submissive to authority isn’t it, especially in this current age of women’s rights equality.
I don’t want to get into that, I don’t know enough about it but what I do want to do is draw your attention to verse 1, ‘Wives, in the same way...’ In the same way as what? In the same way that we are meant to submit to authority, ‘For the Lord’s sake.’
For the Lord’s sake, wives are meant to submit to their husbands. This isn’t to say that God thinks men are better, we are both equal in the Lord’s eyes, we are both made in his likeness and he loves us both the same. But we are to do this for the Lord’s sake!
And how does it reflect on God when he says from the beginning, men are the head of the household and yet Christian wives do not submit to their husbands?
For his sake submit to husbands, and if any of them do not believe, they may be won over not necessarily through words, but through your actions.
The second thing he encourages wives to do is to show your beauty, and he’s not talking here of wives spending hours in front of the mirror, or going to Westfield every week buying new cloths.
Peter says, ‘Your beauty should not come from outward adornment...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.’ Again, you are not doing this foremost for the man, but for God, ‘In God’s sight.’ A wife, submitting to her husband, is a woman submitting to God first and foremost.
And husbands, its up to you to respect your wives for who they are, v.7, ‘In the same way, be considerate as you live with you wives.’ In the same way? The same way as what? For the same reasons they submit to you, you should respect your wives and be considerate towards them for the Lord’s sake!
You see, its all for the Lord’s sake. We either submit to him in doing these things - Submitting to Authority and to each other or we submerge back into the world. A world who wont see Jesus reflected in our lives, a world that won’t see God in us.
I just want to use the final verses of our passage today to summarize for us:
Submit or Submerge is the question. To submit to the path God has asked us to walk, or to submerge to the ways of the world, casting all this aside. It’s a very practical passage. Submit to Authority - For the Lord’s sake. Submit to One another - For the Lord’s sake. Or submerge and let any reflection of God we might cast be stripped away and the whole world will lose sight.
If we submit to authority and to each other, if we submit to God, caring for one another, love each other, being compassionate and humble, just as Jesus is. We may be ridiculed, we may be treated unfair, we might be taken advantage of, just as Jesus was. But we are not to repay evil for evil, we are not to trade insult for insult. But just as Jesus did we are to give blessing. Just as Jesus did, we are to submit all to God and in so doing submit to authority and to each other in loving care and kindness.