March 13, 2022
1 Peter 3:8-12 NIV
8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
For the longest time, I have read letters like this one from Peter and others from Paul as collections of miscellany, kind of like they are responding to frequently asked questions concerning what God says about this social problem, that ethical issue or this other moral dilemma. Consequently, this is how I have often read and interpreted them. What does the Bible say about same gender sexual relationships? What does the Bible say about money? What does the Bible say about marriage? Certainly all these things and more are addressed over the course of the multiple correspondences that make up the New Testament. However, this is not the main purpose and point of the New Testament.
We must keep the main point of the letter front and center—finding our place and playing our part in the Church Jesus is building. These letters are written by Apostles to churches for the sake of the movement of the Kingdom of Heaven spreading across the Earth.
Peter is not trying to give us a marriage seminar. He knows these churches are made up of families but note his calculus is not “as goes the family so goes the church.” If that were the case, he would have dedicated the entire letter to family life. Peter knows the opposite is true, “as goes the church so goes the family.” So many times along the way I have heard people espouse a priority list something like this: 1. God. 2. Family. 3. Church. I suppose given the church as I have known it, this ordering makes sense. However, this ordering of priorities would make no sense to the New Testament or its writers. Here is how they would have ordered the list: 1. Jesus 2. Church. 3. Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
In the New Testament, the idea of somehow separating out family from church as a different category would have been an absurdity. Church would have been the covering and shelter for the family. The Apostles are not dealing with a federation of loosely connected families. They are pouring everything they have into the Body of Jesus Christ.
If you will notice, the central concern of the New Testament is not the individual believer or the nuclear family but the supernatural community known as the Church Jesus is building. And the central concern with the Church Jesus is building are the relationships therein—Jews and Gentiles, slaves and masters, men and women, husbands and wives, parents and children. Every single relationship and all of them together matter more than we can possibly imagine within the Body of Christ for the sake of the world.
8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
And every single relationship and interaction with those outside of the Body of Christ matters more than we can possibly imagine for the mission of the Kingdom in the world.
9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
Friends of Jesus, it’s about relationships. The American Christian tends to believe and act as though the church exists for the sake of the flourishing of the individual and the family. In this model, the notion of the expansion of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth is a bit of an afterthought at best. The Christian American tends to believe and act as though the individual and the family exist for the sake of the flourishing of the Church whose mission is the expansion of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
If I’m honest, I have mostly thought of the Church as existing for me. I’m finally waking up to the realization that I exist for the sake of the Church—the one Jesus is building, that is.
Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Thank you for the Church you are building. We confess, we have too often and too many times thought we could somehow do it better than you and done it in our own way and claimed it to be done in your name. We seem so far from the New Testament Church, as though we could somehow find it by our own resolve. We can’t. And this is the point. Holy Spirit, bring us to humble honesty, deep joy-filled repentance and profound surrender to you and submission to one another. Praying in Jesus name, Amen.
Have you tended to see the church existing for the sake of individuals and families or the other way around? Reflect on that.
P.S. In case you missed this. . .
Some months ago I wrote a P.S. here where I extended two opportunities. The first was to consider sponsoring a day or more (or any part thereof) of the Daily Text for 2022. The second opportunity was for someone to match those gifts enabling us to double down on our investment in this daily extravagant sowing mission. People told me I was crazy to mention such a thing in a P.S., but I sensed the boldness of Jesus to do it.
So the daily sponsorship comes to $365 (or roughly $30/month). The match came to $133,225. Many people seized the opportunity. I was so encouraged I all but forgot about the match invitation. About a week ago, as a complete surprise, a family who wishes to remain anonymous contacted us and said Jesus laid it on their hearts to make the match gift!!! We were blown away.
It turns out we are just over half way there (cue Bon Jovi) to sponsoring 2022’s Daily Text. These generous friends are matching all of those gifts so far. And they will match it the rest of the way to 365 days. So we are now at 278 days and counting, leaving us with 87 days remaining. If you want to jump in you can do it here. And thanks for even considering it and for rejoicing with us in the blessing of this good news.
For the Awakening,