Posts tagged ‘1 Peter’

May 15, 2014

843 Acres: Christopher Hitchens and Christian Unity

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 15 (txt | aud, 1:35 min) 1 Pet 3 (txt | aud, 3:18 min) Highlighted: 1 Pet 3:8

Unity: Have you ever noticed that Jesus prayed specifically for us—you and me? In one of his last prayers, he said, “I do not ask for [the apostles] only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” [1] We are—“those who will believe in me through their word.” What did he pray for us? Unity: “that they be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us.” [2] Peter, too, wrote, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” [3] What is at stake in our unity?

Observation: While Christopher Hitchens was undergoing various cancer treatments, he journaled his thoughts about dying. These thoughts were published posthumously in a short book of essays called Mortality. In one essay, Hitchens—a renowned atheist—offers an insightful observation on Christian unity: “If I were to announce that I had suddenly converted to Catholicism, I know that [two particular fundamentalist evangelicals] would feel I had fallen into grievous error. On the other hand, if I were to join either of their Protestant evangelical groups, the followers of Rome would not think my soul was much safer than it is now …” [4]

Disunity: The debate he observes is not merely Catholic vs. Protestant; it’s also Presbyterian (PCA, PCUSA, etc.) vs. Baptist (SBC, CBF, etc.) vs. Methodist (EMC, UMC, etc.) and more. To be sure, there are important doctrinal differences between these groups that should be taken seriously—sometimes very seriously. Yet how we talk—our tone, sympathy, and love—about those with whom we disagree, though, can tell us about our own views on unity. Do we have hearts that long to pray with Jesus, saying, “Make us one, just as the Son and the Father are one, that we together may be in the Christ”?

Prayer: Lord, Freud coined the phrase—“the narcissism of minor differences”—and we confess that our sinful human nature seeks to make major differences out of minor ones because we are prideful. There are, of course, some differences that cannot be overcome. Where we can, however, give us “unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind”. For when Jesus prayed for us, he told us what is at stake in our unity: “that the world may believe that you have sent me.” [5] Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] John 17:20 ESV | [2] John 17:21 | [3] 1 Peter 3:8 | [4] Hitchens also writes about how Christians engaged with him as he was dying. Although he wasn’t always accurate in his assessment of Christian theology, his voice about how he was treated during this time is important (and painful) to hear. (One notable exception was his friend Frances Collins, who was lovely, he said.) | [5] John 17:21

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May 15, 2014

843 Acres TBT: Once You Were Not a People

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 14 (txt | aud, 4:35 min)
1 Pet 2 (txt | aud, 3:29 min)

Peter: 1 Peter 2:9-10

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Moses: Deuteronomy 7:6-14

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today.

And because you listen to these rules and keep and do them, the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers. He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples.

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May 14, 2014

843 Acres: How to “Lean In” at Work

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 13 (txt | aud, 3:07 min)
1 Pet 1 (txt | aud, 3:48 min)
Highlighted: 1 Pet 1:15

Priesthood: Peter is writing to a group of Christians that is being slandered and falsely accused because of their commitment to Jesus. [1] In the midst of these trials, Peter says that they are to live uniquely in the world: “Since he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” [2] They are to transform their affliction into service to the world—a world that does not honor Jesus. Yet they should not think of themselves as victims, but as servants—“a holy priesthood” as Peter says. [3] How can this priestly calling shape their everyday lives?

Lean In: Don Flow, CEO of Flow Automotive, says, “A priest bears the burden of people by absorbing those burdens and bringing them before God and bringing God’s blessing to the people. Paul made it clear that to fulfill the law of Christ meant to bear each other’s burdens. Both John and Peter call us a ‘Kingdom of Priests.’ As Christian leaders, we must lean into the burdens of the people in our organizations. This means that we must genuinely know the people with whom we work. For Christian leaders, who a person is and what they do are fully integrated. People cannot be reduced to instruments of production.”

Pray: “Christian leadership,” he continues, “requires that prayer be fully integrated into the life of work. The whole world groans with the burden of the fall, and it is our calling to participate in the healing of this world. In prayer, we can lift the burdens of others before God, and we can bring God’s refreshing touch to the world. I believe we are called to pray for the people with whom we interact every day, for His in-breaking into our day, that our organization would be a blessing, that it would do good, that it would be a positive force for shalom, and for God’s blessing, which is the source of all abundance in this world. Prayer is central to the calling of leadership.”

Prayer: Lord, You call us to be holy as you are holy, to live uniquely in our world. As we consider the people with whom we interact daily, we pray that we would “lean in” to our calling to be  “a holy priesthood”—bringing their burdens to you and your blessings to them. May we genuinely know other people as relational, not transactional, human beings made in your image. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] See 1 Peter 2:12, 18-20; 3:13-17; 4:4, 14, 19. | [2] 1 Peter 1:15 ESV | [3] 1 Peter 2:5

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November 28, 2013

843 Acres: Throwback Thursday (Lincoln): Day of Thanksgiving

by Bethany

M’Cheyne1 Chr 24-25 (text | audio, 3:23 min)
1 Ptr 5 (text | audio, 2:06 min)
Highlighted: 1 Ptr 5:6-7

Apostle Peter. 1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you …

President Abraham Lincoln. October 3, 1863

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful Providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, … peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict … Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship … Population has steadily increased … and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

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November 27, 2013

843 Acres: Unpopularity as a Form of Suffering?

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Chr 23 (text | audio, 3:42 min)
1 Ptr 4 (text | audio, 2:40 min)
Highlighted: 1 Ptr 4:12-14

Suffering: In our modern Western world, suffering for the faith rarely looks like “the forty lashes minus one” that Paul was given. For most of us, it is the daily decision to trust the goodness of the Lord in the form of obedience when our inner and outer voices tell us to question his goodness and disobey him. Is God really being good to me when he tells me only to marry Christians? Doesn’t he know how few Christian men live in New York? Is he really being good to me when he tells me to give from my salary to the ministry of the word? Doesn’t he know how little I make? When we obey him—as everything within us and around us tells us not to—it is suffering for the faith. It is, as John Owen says, mortification of sin. It is, as C.S. Lewis argues, a great divorce.

Promise: Such suffering is part of the Christian life because obedience is optional. It feels that we are choosing pain, even though—in reality—we are choosing trust, obedience, and joy. Choosing obedience in a culture that mocks it creates short-term pain, but long-term peace. The apostles understood this. Peter wrote, “With respect to [the non-believers], they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you.” [1] Then he continued, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” [2]

Prayer: Lord, Christ suffered in the flesh for his obedience and, therefore, we will suffer in the flesh, too. We confess that we hate suffering and pain. When we experience it, we want it to end immediately. Yet suffering is a part of life—not only because our culture mocks obedience, but also because our sinful hearts have disordered loves. When we choose obedience, it is painful. Yet the time is coming when your glory and our joy will be revealed. Therefore, renew our hope in your promises that we may, by your Spirit, mortify the deeds of the flesh. Amen.

Note: Recommended readings: Mortification of Sin by John Owen (this version, in paperback only) and The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (any version).

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Footnotes

[1] 1 Peter 4:4 ESV | [2] 1 Peter 4:12-14 ESV

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