Read: 1 Peter 2:11-25
Consider: When Peter wrote his letter to the churches throughout the Roman provinces in what is modern-day Turkey, he reminded them that they had to live distinctively in what was essentially a pagan society. The term pagan was used to describe anyone who practised a polytheistic religion, that was usually focussed on the natural world. If Peter was writing to churches today, is is likely that he would be warning the believers to live distinctively in a secular world. While there are still places today where polytheism is dominant, it is likely today that many Christians will find themselves living amongst people who are indifferent to their beliefs. In such a case Peter’s exhortation to: Live such good lives … that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us (1 Peter 2:12), seems all the more relevant. Later in today’s passage we read: For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people (2:15). Peter is not speaking here of ‘ignorant’ people who are rude, but is using the word in the sense of ‘being uninformed’. There are many people who have no first-hand knowledge of Christianity, who base their opinions on what they imagine Christianity to be, rather than its reality.
Peter gives us some practical application of what it means to live distinctively in society today. Firstly, to submit willingly to human authority (2:13-14). Increasingly we see society where the exhortation to: ‘Show proper respect to everyone …’ (2:17) is treated with ridicule, as the ‘me’ generation takes the view that what ‘I feel” and what “I want to do’ is of supreme importance. There seems to be an increasing disrespect at all levels of society, but Christians should be distinctive by showing appropriate respect at all times.
Secondly, although Peter speaks of slaves (2:18-20), we can apply this to us today in the worker/employer relationship. Peter’s advice to submit to our employers is not something that modern society wishes to hear. When people hear the word ‘submit’, some of them immediately think of it as being ‘servile’. The exhortation to Christians is that how they react in work, should be noticeably different to those they work alongside who do not have faith in God.
Peter then tells us the reason why we should live distinctively in the world; it is because of the example Jesus set for us. We read in 1 Peter 2:21 – To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving an example, that you should follow in his steps. Christ’s example meant that: When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly (2:23).
Are you willing to live distinctively in a secular world where faith in God is marginalised? Are you willing to live distinctively, not just at home or in church, but also in your workplace? Ask God to give you the right words to answer when someone expresses an incorrect view of Christianity. If you are in employment, let Jesus’ example lead you in how you react to the many situations you will face there.
Pray: Father, may we be willing to follow Christ’s example in our dealings with a secular world. May we not react negatively to ill-informed opinions of Christianity, but take time to explain the truth of what we believe. May every aspect of our lives be a distinctive witness of the power of Christ in us. Amen