Monday, March 18, 2013

God's Culture

Every single culture has something about it that is very good and helps believers grow in their walk with God.  However, every culture also has something about it that becomes a hindrance in our growth.  It doesn't matter where you live or where you grew up, you were raised with values that make it difficult for us to follow God fully and completely.  Last week, I touched on the idea that one stumbling block can be the idea of our "rights."  Reading through the second half of the book of Mark on Friday pointed out God's desire for us to set aside our perceived rights in order to love God and our neighbors.  Today's reading with the Community Bible Experience takes us through 1 Peter, where this seems to be a theme that is continued.  Peter was writing to believers living in what is now known as Turkey, where they were under heavy persecution from the emperor, Nero.  In his approach, we can see the influence Christ had in his heart and his understanding of the life that Jesus modeled for all believers.

Peter starts out the beginning of this letter reminding all believers of the great hope we have in Jesus.  He reminds who we are in Christ: a royal priesthood.  He doesn't tell us this so that we can feel superior to all other people, because it becomes very clear in the rest of the letter that since we are part of a royal priesthood there are some expectations and responsibilities that we are to live out.  One of the first things he tells us after reminding us our identity in Christ is, "Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul," 1 Peter 2:11.  So, we are immediately told that since we were part of God's family, His priesthood, we are foreigners here on earth so we should live as though the culture has no place in our lives.  Our human culture will always have something that is not a part of God's culture, so we should just focus on God's way of living and let go of the human desires.

Peter continued to write something that Jesus lived out and modeled for us, "Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right," 1 Peter 2:13-14.  For the next several verses, Peter reminds us that submission and respect is what is part of God's culture.  Submission and respect - those are words that are not fun to consider.  But they are very much a part of God's desire for us, and they are very much what Jesus lived for us on earth.  He reminded us to love God first and then to love others second.  Isn't it interesting that He never commanded us to fight for our rights but instead told us to become servants.

Peter reminded us of this important posture that Jesus lived out in order for us to understand the heart of God.  He reminded us that this may mean suffering for us.  But this suffering is no different from what Jesus experienced, and even through His suffering He continued to submit to authority.  Consider that for a moment: the very One who had all authority even submitted to the authority He was under here on earth.  So how much more should we submit?  This brings honor and glory to God.

Do you willingly submit to the authority you are under?

This post is linked with Sharing His Beauty.

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