1 Peter 3

Readings for this week February 17 – 21
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

Day 1 – The Way of Married Living

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 Peter 3:1-7

This passage – a rather famous one, if often abused or truncated (people focus on verses 1-6 easily enough but frequently seem to forget about verse 7 for some reason) – seems to cause just as much trouble today as in times past, but for almost completely different reasons. First, we need to understand the context. If a man became a Christian, he would, as head of the family and the one in charge, often bring his entire household into the faith with him. Under Roman law he had absolute authority over every member of his household, including his wife, who, if she became a Christian, usually entered the church alone. Hence Peter’s call for wives to submit to their husbands, and conduct themselves with reverence and purity, not because of any second-class status, but for their own protection. In their situation, any attempt to assert their own independent rights would be quite a risky, even dangerous, move.

What Peter is saying here about husbands and wives is truly revolutionary. This passage is another example of a countercultural way of living, a way in which husbands and wives show mutual love, commitment and respect to each other. This is especially the case when we consider how women were viewed, and treated, in ancient Roman society. They were very much seen as a lower, less worthy, second class sort of human being, with innate characteristics that stemmed more from passion and emotion than from reason – hence the widespread belief in the need for women to be constantly subordinated to powerful, self-restrained, reasoning men. So Peter’s call for husbands and wives to live as equals is yet another example of how different Christian living is meant to be.

Question to Consider
How do these verses apply in today’s world?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, may our marriages be arenas for your grace and love to shine through for all to see. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – The Importance of Like-Mindedness

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 Peter 3:8

“Be like-minded.” This is a word that, for many people, often those outside the faith, conjures up images of robots, mindless automatons, and theories about hive minds and clones. For many, like-mindedness implies groupthink and the subsuming of all individuality beneath the outer shell assumed by all members of the group – subsumed, often to be eradicated, in the manner of a cult: no opinions, thoughts, or ideas of your own. But for Peter like-mindedness is of vital importance, grouped here with other crucial characteristics like humility, love and compassion. It is an essential attribute of God’s community of people if they are to be a community of people, united and moving in the same direction as their leader, Jesus. Like-mindedness requires that we be developing and growing the fruits of the Spirit in us and amongst ourselves, as we learn to love each other.

So obviously the squashing and suppressing of our individuality is not what God (or Peter) has in mind. Our God-crafted individuality is still important – it is something that God has made and gifted to each of us after all. But that individuality is in need of repair, in need of transformation through the power of God’s Spirit dwelling in us and moulding us little by little into the likeness of Jesus, and into a community of people who can live together and relate to each other and God in love. The like-mindedness we are called to have is a similarity of thought and disposition that is modelled on the person and character of Jesus – someone who put performing the will of his Father above all other motivations and who served others faithfully unto death.

Questions to Consider
What does like-mindedness mean to you? How are you developing it?

Prayer
Almighty God, you have called me to be with others who love you too, and to work with them for your glory. Help me to do this today. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – Standing Out in the Right Way

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 Peter 3:9-16

Christians are supposed to stand out as distinctive. We all know this. As followers of Jesus, the true King of the world, we are supposed to be modelling a new way – the true way – of living, showing the world the true meaning of being human. But too often these days, Christians can end up standing out for the wrong reasons, especially when we are mocked and scorned (which we know we will be; Jesus himself said so) and we retaliate with behaviour and speech on the same level as those attacking us. But when we ‘respond in kind’, when we ‘give as good as we get’, we are failing to model the very behaviour we are calling others out for. We have to walk a fine line between being so much like everyone else that we are indistinguishable from the society around us, with our Christ-allegiance making no discernible difference, and being so aloof, removed and almost ‘holier-than-thou’ that we are invisible because we have isolated ourselves from the world around us.

We successfully walk that fine line when we learn, together as the body Christ, the new way of life that Peter describes in these verses: blessing others in all circumstances, watching what we say, doing good not evil, and seeking after peace wherever we find it. These new practical habits, of mind and of heart, learned and practised in community, will create a people characterised by kindness, mercy, humility, love for all, and united in their worshiping obedience of their king. Thus moulded and fortified, we will be able to face a hostile world ignorant of God, and show it the true way to live without fear.

Question to Consider
What should be distinctive about Christian behaviour?

Prayer
Almighty Father, help us walk the fine line. Help us to be distinctive and yet connected, set apart and yet engaged, yours and yet for all. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Suffering and Assured Victory

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 Peter 3:17-18

It may not look like it, and many Christians’ experience may certainly not feel like it, but our baptism into the community of God’s people puts us firmly under the reality of the Messiah’s victory over the forces of darkness. But it doesn’t always appear so. We must remain firm and strong, and not be discouraged or tempted to turn away because there are times when that victory seems hollow, distant, or altogether absent. As much as we might not want to, we will suffer for doing right. We will suffer for holding to God’s standard of truth and rightness; we will suffer as we fight for justice for the poor and displaced and marginalised; we will suffer as we obediently enact God’s plan and purpose for his defiant world.

As exiles, our way of living should be different than those around us, and our motivation for life should come from somewhere different: from our position as God’s children. That is what defines who we are above and before all other definitions. To live as his children in a world that refuses to acknowledge God has consequences for us – or it should do. Calling people back to the God who created them and loves them when they don’t want to go back and refuse to listen will see us ridiculed and abused. They will shoot the messenger. But our sufferings can be turned to God’s purposes, not the least of which is our gradual transformation into the likeness of the crucified Jesus, the one we love, the one we follow.

Questions to Consider
Where does your motivation come from? How are you living as a child of God in a world that refuses to know him? What are the consequences?

Prayer
Sovereign Lord, the world and everything and everyone in it is yours. We are living as exiles in a world that should know you but doesn’t. May we live lives pleasing to you, but that also stand as testimony to your goodness and the love that you long for the rest of the world to experience. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – Trusting in the Final, Complete Victory Yet to Come

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 Peter 3:19-22

Back at the opening of the letter Peter mentioned the promises stored up in heaven, the promises for us kept safe by Jesus, until the day of salvation arrives. This is the reality, but it can be a hard reality for us to believe in and hold onto when life is hard, when suffering comes, and when any possible promise seems like a joke in the light of the broken circumstances of the world. Sometimes it can seem like the offer of a promise is just a further taunt, something else to lament, a cruel juxtaposition of what could be – but is so far away as to be invisible – with what is – that is so near and seemingly hopeless.

We must trust that Jesus’ victory will one day be played out, in full, throughout the entire world, for all to see, even if that day sometimes seems just a distant dream. For most of us, living in comfort and security in countries that are relatively indifferent to our faith, if they even acknowledge it at all, we need, at the very least, to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who are persecuted and terrorised because of their faith. There are those for whom the promise is all there is and the prayers of the saints are all that sustain them. Those who live in places where the reality of Jesus’ victory is particularly difficult to see need the urgent, diligent, faithful prayers of those of us who do not face such hardship and persecution – yet.

Questions to Consider
What role does suffering play in the life of the follower of Jesus? Why? What is the importance of suffering in our imitation of Christ?

Prayer
Heavenly Lord, if suffering is in the offering, may you give me the strength and courage to bear it. Be with those in our world whose obedience to you comes at great personal, physical cost. Bless them and their suffering. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)