This message is a part of a series of messages from the Book of 1 Peter. This particular sermon deals with how our lives affect those around us, particularly in the “day of visitation.” It makes for a significant life!
1 Peter 2:13-25
This past summer, Robin, the girls and I took a vacation in Florida. We went to a rented condo, a great place, in Port St. Lucie, Florida, the winter home of the Mets. There were palm trees, beaches, sunshine, shells, turtle nests, and palm trees nearby. We petted Sting Rays in an aquarium. We had a great time. But when our time was up, what did we have to do? Go home, because we don’t live there. So reluctantly we packed the car, left the keys for the condo and moved on. There’s a term for what we were while we were there. It’s a Bible word and an English word. I’ll leave you hanging there for a few minutes.
Today we’re continuing on in our study of parts of 1 Peter. It’s a book, written to relatively new believers in difficult circumstances. In it, we find that God has placed us here for one great reason….(so now I’ll leave you hanging on two things)
Let’s read 1 Peter 2:13-17
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
Here are some practical, yet difficult, commands for living a significant life.
Notice, it starts with the word, “therefore”.
Therefore means that what I’m about to say is the right and logical response to what I’ve said before. So what did Peter say before?
1 Peter 2:11-12
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
You, as Christians, are sojourners and pilgrims. What were the Plummers on vacation? We were sojourners. We lived temporarily in Port St. Lucie, Florida. There were rules to follow there that were different than home. First of all, rip currents. Watch out for those and here’s what you do when you’re in one. I’ve never been concerned about those here on Lake Ontario or in the canal, but there it’s important. And turtle nests; don’t disturb them on the beach in Florida. Here, the only nests I’m really concerned about are wasp nests on or around the house; turtles not so much. But while we were there, we stayed away from turtle nests.
One thing we weren’t in Florida was Pilgrims. It’s similar. Pilgrims are on a trip and live somewhere temporarily on their way to another destination. But in the case of the pilgrim, it’s a “holy” destination. Some religions consider a pilgrimage a part of faith.
You as Christians are sojourners and pilgrims. You don’t live here permanently. There’s another place you are on your way to and it’s a “holy” place. There’s a life after this one that we can’t see yet, but is there nonetheless. This place, it’s where we camp out on the way to where we’ll be permanently.
Now let’s answer that second “left you hanging” question – the “reason”. What is the reason God has for us being here? I mean, vacation is one thing but we’re talking about our whole life here is sojourning as pilgrims. Why do we need to live a certain way?
…having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
Ah! The way we live our days out as sojourners and pilgrims is not marching in place for no reason or having as much fun as possible. It’s to affect people. To bring people face to face with God through godly behavior, so that when their day of visitation comes (and it comes to all) they have to say, “God is amazing. I know it because the people who follow Him are amazing, even when I spit in their faces and laughed and mocked them and gave them a hard time.” It’s not “if” they speak against you as evildoers, it’s “when”.
Back to verse 13. How do we specifically affect people and bring them face to face with Him? We live in such a way as to “glorify” Him. So when people look at the reaction to that situation and say “Whoa, that’s just not human reaction, it’s a reflection of God in their lives.” The promise is that they will at least remember it in the day of visitation.
Let’s look at the kind of pilgrim life that points to God.
1. We respect and honor those who are in positions of authority. We “do good”. Yes, we pay our taxes and speak respectfully to police officers, judges, and anyone else who is in a position of authority; including your Mom and Dad, your obnoxious or ill placed boss, or your boss’ boss. As a matter of fact, even when you have to obey God when your boss is telling you you have to do something disobedient to God; you treat them with honor. All authority has been given by God.
2. We live free, but don’t let our flesh wander freely because we’re bondservants of Christ, not bondservants of our fleshly inclinations. You have joy and freedom in the way that you live, but you aren’t free to be sinful. When you don’t pop that obnoxious person, verbally or otherwise, we do so for God and it points to God.
We’re free to honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, and honor the king, who stands for all authority.
3. We also handle suffering for godly behaviors well.
verse 20 – “For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? (You deserved it). But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.”
What??? It’s commendable to suffer for doing the right thing? Doesn’t that put us in a bad position? Don’t we feel sorry for those who are going through that? Yes to all.
Why is it commendable? Because it has real purpose to glorify God in this temporary life and affect the lives of others; that’s what Jesus did (verses 21-25). Look what He accomplishes in the lives of unbelieving broken humans because He took unfair punishment without reacting. He became the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Here’s the main point:
The way we live as sojourners and pilgrims, doing right, living rightly and freely, honoring people and following Jesus changes lives because God uses it in the day of visitation.
My first car was a 1973 Volkswagen Beetle that I bought from my grandparents. When I needed to register the car, my grandmother came with me to the DMV. My grandfather told me to just fill out the form at the DMV as if the car were a gift instead of documenting how much I paid for it. After all, how would they know? But when we got to the DMV, my conscience started bothering me. When the form was in front of me, I couldn’t do it. My grandmother had to call my grandfather and have him come down to the DMV office in order to sign off on the paperwork because the title was in his name. He was not entertained by the situation and it was embarrassing to me, but it was done right.
Fast forward a number of years. My grandfather was in a personal crisis and I was sitting at a table across from him at a family event. He looked me in the eye and asked about being right with God. He said that the reason he was asking me was that I didn’t bend at the DMV. It was the day of visitation for him. My Mom led him to the Lord two weeks later and he was transformed.
Who will you affect for Heaven by the way you handle things now? Even unfair things?
Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. When you suffer wrongly, take it patiently and by your life other lives will be changed, for the glory of God and for their day of visitation.
Is today your day of visitation?