Monday, February 3, 2014

February 3 - 1 Peter 3

Today's reading in our daily plan is 1 Peter 3. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • At first glance, the opening section on wives and husbands may look like an antiquated view of marriage relationships. But it's important to consider how it would be viewed by people who lived during the time 1 Peter was written.
  • Women were not considered equal to men; men decided the religion of the household. If a woman became a Christian without her husband's consent, that would have been scandalous. This is why Peter states that if a woman becomes a believer, she should continue to live graciously with her husband, so that she will be a good example of Christ to him. To say that her life would have been difficult is an understatement. A husband could make her life miserable if he wanted. This is why Peter says to submit. Submission was not so one could be treated poorly, but as a tool to show God's love and grace.
  • Peter reminds women that beauty is not skin deep. A woman's heart and character matter more than outward appearance.
  • In verse 7, Peter speaks strongly to husbands. He encourages them to be considerate and loving to their wives. He is essentially telling men that if a wife is submissive, the only healthy response is selfless love. 
  • In verse 7, he is also explaining to men that women have equal "spiritual rights." This may seem odd, but, remember how we said that in ancient times women were expected to follow the religion of the husband? Women were considered second class citizens in Jesus' time. As a result,  they were not allowed to share in worship practices of the Romans or the Greeks. Even in the Jewish synagogue, women were segregated and hidden behind a screen. Jesus revolutionized women's roles by stating that they could know God's grace on their own, without a man. 
  • The second section of chapter 3 is reminiscent of the preceding 2 chapters. Peter is continually reminding us that we are to live in harmony with one another, even if we are being treated badly. This is a constant theme throughout the entire book. He encourages compassion and humility, whether it is in a marriage, a work relationship, or one's view of government. He even echoes James' sentiment to watch our tongue, as it can get us into trouble (James 3).

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Husbands and wives should strive to love one another in the same way that Christ loves us.  
  • We should strive to live peacefully with one another, no matter how much we may suffer.
  • Although it would be nice if our lifestyle spoke loudly enough for people to understand God's love, sometimes it's not enough. That is why verse 15 makes it clear that we need to be able to engage in conversation and clearly explain God's salvation to those who ask. Live right and be prepared to speak.
  • Although scholars disagree on Peter's discussion in verses 18-20, the main point is clear: Jesus suffered for us, even though he was perfect, so that we can be with him in heaven someday. His resurrection makes it possible for us to join him in heaven.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • If you are married, how do you treat your spouse? Do you show respect to each other? Do you pray for one another? Do you show grace to your spouse the way that God shows grace to you everyday?
  • Is your spouse a believer? If so, are you working together to know Christ more? If not, are you letting your life and your love lead the way? Jesus shows endless grace to us. Don't forget to do the same for each other. 
  • If you are not married, pray that God will lead you to a grace-filled believer that loves Jesus as much as you do.
  • It can sometimes be difficult to live harmoniously. Did your husband say something horrible to you that you can't forget? Did your boss embarrass you at the company meeting? Did Congress pass a bill you don't agree with? Resist the urge to fight back; give it all to God.
  • If someone were to ask you why you believe in Jesus, would you know what to say? Can you articulate what you believe? If not, take the time now to prepare for those potentially life-changing conversations. Some books that can help including Becoming a Contagious Christian and Just Walk Across the Room.