Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller


Slaving Away

1Peter 2:11-25

The following are actual quotes from managers collected by Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert:\r
\r
As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday and employees will receive their cards in two weeks.\r
\r
What I need is a list of specific unknown problems we will encounter. \r
\r
E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should be used only for company business.\r
\r
This project is so important, we can't let things that are more important interfere with it. \r
\r
Doing it right is no excuse for not meeting the schedule. \r
\r
"We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees." \r
\r
One day my Boss asked me to submit a status report to him concerning a project I was working on. I asked him if tomorrow would be soon enough. He said "If I wanted it tomorrow, I would have waited until tomorrow to ask for it!" \r
\r
This gem is the closing paragraph of a nationally-circulated memo from a large communications company: "(Company name) is endeavorily determined to promote constant attention on current procedures of transacting business focusing emphasis on innovative ways to better, if not supersede, the expectations of quality!" \r
\r
Quote from the Boss: "Teamwork is a lot of people doing what 'I' say." \r
\r
We like to joke about how our jobs are like slave labor ? and management is the enemy ? but as we move through chapter 2 or 1 Peter, the Apostle Peter has some real insights into living and working in the world while maintaining our Christian witness. They come from 2,000 years ago, but work just well today in the 21st century.\r
\r
We?ve built up to this point:\r
\r
? Our Position in Christ ? it?s secure (Ch 1:1-10)\r
? Our Purification through trials (Ch 1:11-21)\r
? Resulting in Perfected Love for one another (Ch 1:22-25)\r
? And a Putting Away of bad motives so we can express that pure love purely (Ch 2:1-10)\r
\r
Now the rubber meets the road ? as Peter gives us guidelines and tools in three areas for the balance of chapter 2:\r
\r
How to live successfully as a Christian in:\r
\r
Our Culture\r
Our Country\r
Our Workplace\r
\r
Starting off Peter makes the point ? I like how The Message puts it: don?t get cozy!\r
\r
1) Our Culture, verses 11 - 12\r
\r
? The world will pull you down ? we must resist and remain vigilant\r
? Let good behavior overcome an unjust and bad reputation\r
\r
Christ vs Culture\r
\r
David Wells God In The Wilderness\r
??It must first recover a sense of antithesis between Christ and culture, and then find ways to sustain that antithesis ? It must give up self-cultivation for self-surrender, entertainment for worship, intuition for truth, slick marketing for authentic witness, success for faithfulness, power for humility, a God bought on cheap terms for the God who calls us to costly obedience.?\r
\r
Scott McKnight The NIV Application Commentary for 1 Peter\r
?Religion is neither a prop for politics nor sanctification of government wishes. Instead it is a separate voice, an alternative society to the prevailing culture and status quo.?\r
\r
This doesn?t mean we retreat into monestaries or convents but that we live our lives fully and openly as Christians, ?little Christs?, not worldlings that happen to be saved.\r
\r
Peter calls us to holiness ? that doesn?t mean just going to church on Sunday, tithing, reading our Bible and prayer ? although those things are important. Scott McKnight says holiness is ?a thirst, a drive to know God in His fullness and an unashamed commitment to obey God whatever it costs.?\r
\r
Despite the claim of some ? holiness is also not a rigid set of rules governing our every breath ? the church has made a huge mistake in the past focusing on how long hair should be, and whether women should wear slacks in church ? the mention a few of the ridiculous rules. On the other hand ? a politically correct, all tolerance of any behavior, open arm inclusiveness is also not holiness.\r
\r
Think about the things God cares about: sexual purity, addictive freedom, behavior with others, devotion to worship, fairness to the disenfranchised ? a lifestyle that fights against self-indulgence and for selfless giving of oneself to God and our brothers and sisters.\r
\r
2) Our Country ? verses 13 - 17\r
\r
? Remember ?chosen obedience?? Apply it to government with exceptions\r
? God appoints rulers ? even bad ones ? so don?t be so quick to complain\r
? Behaving like a Christian will eventually effect a non-Christian government\r
? We are free from government rule so we can submit to government rule\r
\r
Obeying government\r
\r
?For the Lord?s sake? so that others will give praise to God seeing your example.\r
\r
The Emperor at the time was none other than Nero ? so this respect and obedience of human federal government is even to take place in extreme circumstances.\r
\r
?Submit? means: to order oneself under\r
\r
Ultimately we live under authority because we are free from it. But we must not use that freedom as an excuse for insubordination ? we choose to be orderly and follow the laws as long as they don?t ask us to act in a way contrary to God?s law.\r
\r
The problem is that when we learn about our freedom in Christ it is mind boggling. It would have been especially so for folks living in the first century where simply stating that you were unhappy with the authorities would bring upon you severe punishment. We too are free ? some have taken that freedom as an excuse to avoid paying taxes, or obey other laws. What we must discern in our own lives what is our motive. If it is to get more money, then it is selfish.\r
\r
So how are we to act? We obey the law, but when it contradicts the law of God we can protest that ? such as protesting at abortion clinics. But that protest must also take place under the guidelines set forth in our country?s laws ? killing a doctor or bombing a clinic is clearly illegal and not appropriate for a Christian who opposes the killing of unborn babies.\r
\r
Another angle is not just disobedient behavior but obedient ? for instance, today we see a real acrid attitude from the right to the left politically. We as Christians should be even handed ? fair, and lovingly sharing the truth of Jesus ? no matter what the political persuasion. Jesus, it might come as a surprise to you, is not a Republican ? neither is He a Democrat. \r
\r
McKnight?s 6 points:\r
\r
1) Christians should not be isolationists\r
2) We should join with non-Christians for the common good\r
3) We should support government, but criticize it when needed\r
4) Politics is unimportant in the long run\r
5) We should be wary of national pride\r
6) We should help the poor\r
\r
3) Our Workplace\r
\r
? Bad bosses get respect ? even if they don?t deserve it\r
? It?s important is putting up with the bad, even though you don?t have to\r
? Be industrious, not aggressive\r
? Look for ways to love and respect, not for ways to hurt and put down\r
? Good work has rewards beyond your job (witness)\r
\r
Slavery\r
\r
Slavery in Peter?s time was not like what we think of slavery in our country?s past.\r
\r
In the Greek and Roman world up to 1/3 of everyone in urban areas was considered a slave. Slavery was not a permanent condition but a path towards freedom. People would often become the slave of a Roman citizen in order through good behavior or savings become free themselves. \r
\r
Many chose slavery over being a vagabond looking for work. And not all slaves did manual labor ? doctors, teachers, writers, accountants, secretaries and sea captains ? were all considered slaves. \r
\r
Peter wants everyone to show respect even under harsh conditions ? that the behavior of Christians would rise above the norm.\r
\r
I think slavery then is comparable to our working world today. Many of today?s occupations would be among the slave population in Rome. Our behavior, even under harsh conditions, should be respectful.\r
\r
In a personal example ? a few years ago I worked for a boss who was crazy ? unpredictable, irrational, unknowledgeable, and unpopular. For a while I bristled and was free to share my negative opinion about this man with others. My blood pressure would rise everytime he called ? in fact we had a panic button installed for such calls. \r
\r
After a while I realized that this was wrong and contrary to what Jesus would have me do. So I changed my attitude ? and it changed the situation.\r
\r
Even though I am now leaving that job ? I do so having done my best to remain respectful and do a good job under adverse conditions. \r
\r
We are so worried about ?personal rights? that we forget what it would have been like to live when Peter wrote this letter. We need to let go of our own ?rights? when we have the opportunity to do good and show respect to those who might be won to Christ by our behavior. That doesn?t mean we tolerate behavior that is contrary to the gospel ? in fact we should try to help those who are down trodden whenever possible. But at the same time we need to focus on the big picture, not just our little picture.\r
\r
4) Conclusion Verses 21-25\r
\r
? A life in Christ is a life of suffering (sometimes ? not always) (vs 21)\r
? Retaliation doesn?t help you, but can hurt your witness vs (22-23a)\r
? Our real boss is always fair ? He just doesn?t intervene when we want Him to (vs 23b)\r
? Let death experiences on the job and in life kill the bad in you and create new life in the process. (vs 24)