Know Your Calling Part 2

Sermon Summary

This message is a part of the Rules of Engagement series which is a study of the New Testament book 1 Peter. It is a continuation of a sermon titled "Know Your Calling." In the first ten verses of chapter 2 we discover we are called to spiritual growth, both individually and corporately, and that we are to proclaim to others the good news that has changed our lives. In verses 11-25 we discover how to proclaim that good news by following God's call for us to behave, submit and illustrate. We are to behave by living such godly lives among the pagans that even though they accuse us of wrongdoing, the evidence will be lacking. On the other hand we are to live such good lives that if they accuse us of being like Christ, the evidence will be overwhelming. We are also called to submit to earthly authorities as long as they are not asking us to violate our God-given convictions. They are responsible for punishing wrong doers and commending those who do right. Peter wraps up this section by telling us that Jesus gave us the supreme example to pattern our lives after and we are to illustrate to the world the love, forgiveness, and mercy of God! It's our calling!

 

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Peter says we are strangers and aliens in this world. How has your walk with God at times made you feel like an outsider and how did you deal with that?

 

2. Why is our behavior such a critical component to our call to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the world?

Mat 5:14  "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Mat 5:15  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
Mat 5:16  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

3. Unless earthly authorities try to get us to deny our faith or compromise our convictions, we are to respectfully obey them. Maybe a good context for this question would be your work place. Read Paul's instructions for followers of Christ in Romans 12 and discuss how they might apply in the modern day work place.

Rom 12:14  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rom 12:15  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Rom 12:16  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Rom 12:17  Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
Rom 12:18  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Rom 12:19  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
Rom 12:20  On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."
Rom 12:21  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.



4. Peter stated that Jesus had given us a clear example of our calling to illustrate God's love. Jesus' response to those who had come to arrest Him and then His prayer for those who crucified Him made it clear that His desire was not revenge, but reconciliation. What are some of the ways we are called to illustrate this to our world?

1 Pet 2:21  To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
1 Pet 2:22  "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth."
1 Pet 2:23  When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
1 Pet 2:24  He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
1 Pet 2:25  For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Full Sermon Notes

 

Our ability to engage our culture with the gospel is only possible because of what Jesus did when He allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross and then placed in a grave. Because when they secured Him to the Cross He secured our salvation and eternity! And when they buried Him in the grave, He buried our sin and guilt!  And when He rose from the grave, something His enemies could not prevent, He raised us to new life, new hope, new purpose, and new calling! Let's pray and ask God to help us understand how to carry out that calling to engage the culture with the good news of Jesus Christ!

Father God we love You and need You each and every day we live in this world. The reason You don't call us home the very minute we accept you into our hearts as Savior and Lord, is because You have a work for us to do hear on this earth. Help us to embrace our God-given calling with a passion. Teach us to live such Godly lives that others will desire to know You, Your peace, Your purpose and Your love. There's a lot of bad religion out there, help us to show the world that true religion is all about a relationship with a personal God who loves us so much He made a personal sacrifice in order to make a way for us to know Him personally. That would be You and we thank You in the precious Name of Your Son Jesus, Amen!

Last week Andrew preached a powerful message about our calling. From the first ten verses of chapter two he showed us how we are called first to grow personally in our walk with God through prayer, study of God's word, worship, and service to others. He also pointed out we are to grow corporately as the family of God, the church. He then taught us how our calling includes proclamation. We are to share and tell by declaring the praises of the One who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light! What does living in His wonderful light look like? How do we live in the light when we live in a spiritually darkened world. It has to do with at least three things: Behaving, Submitting, and Illustrating.

Let's look at our Scripture today and let God's Word teach us about these three things. 1 Peter 2:11-12.

Called to Behave

1 Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Now you might say, "Wait a minute Pastor Larry, did Peter just call me an alien? I'm very much a citizen of planet earth! What does he mean that I'm a stranger in the world?" He may have been referring to the fact that Christians were not Roman citizens, even if they were Roman because their allegiance was to Christ not Caesar! He may have been referring to the fact that believers in Jesus Christ have their most important citizenship in heaven and not this earth. Paul put it this way in his letter to the Philippian Church.

Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

So a huge part of our hope is that one day the struggles we face in this earthly body will no longer be a problem because will be transformed gloriously to be like Jesus! In the meantime we are to understand that we are aliens and strangers in a foreign land, but are called to behave as citizens of heaven. And instead of using our foreign citizenship as an excuse to live according to this world's ways, we are to abstain from sinful desires which war against our soul! Now you might be thinking if we're not saved by our good works but by grace, then how do sinful desires war agains our soul? 

Several ways. First of all, just because our soul is saved and headed to heaven some day doesn't mean that sin can't cripple your life in this world. It doesn't mean that sin won't destroy your testimony to the people of this world. And while a person who has accepted Jesus as his or her Savior is safe from the eternal punishment of sin they are definitely not impervious to the consequences of sin. I can't tell you the number of times I've witnessed a Christian person suffer because of their own poor decisions. When Satan realizes he has lost the battle for your eternal life, he'll continue to fight to destroy your earthly life. He want's to steal your joy, your effectiveness, your God-given purpose and your witness to the lost of this world. That's why Peter reminds us that we are called to behave. 

Did you know that one of the biggest reasons some people don't want to have anything to do with Jesus is because of the unchristian behaviors of those who claim to follow Him? Most people don't have a problem with Jesus, but with us! We need to work on that! Amen? Come on, Amen! Our hesitation to admit we are at times part of the problem is a problem! However, we can, if we accept our calling to behave, make a world changing difference in people's lives. It has happened before and can again. What did Peter say in verse twelve?

1 Peter 2:12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Some translations say "glorify God on the day of visitation." So there is some question as to whether or not this is referring to a visitation from God or on the day Christians would be called to testify in court concerning their refusal to worship the emperor. Andrew put me on to an illustration he had heard in a message by Andy Stanley. In this message he mentioned an event in history that illustrates this passage of Scripture extremely well! I listened to Andy's message and then looked up the resource myself. About 70 years after Jesus lived there was a Roman emperor named Trajan. He had a governor named Pliny the Younger. He knew the rule of Rome was that the emperor was to be worshiped. Christians refused to do so and this was a problem for Pliny the Younger and he was perplexed as to what to do, so he wrote a letter to the emperor. 

"It is my practice, my lord, to refer to you all matters concerning which I am in doubt. For who can better give guidance to my hesitation or inform my ignorance? I have never participated in trials of Christians. I therefore do not know what offenses it is the practice to punish or investigate, and to what extent. Meanwhile, in the case of those who were denounced to me as Christians, I have observed the following procedure: I interrogated these as to whether they were Christians; those who confessed I interrogated a second and a third time, threatening them with punishment; those who persisted I ordered executed."

But here was Pliny's moral dilemma: When the Christians testified or others testified about them here's what was said...

"They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food--but ordinary and innocent food."

So here's what the Christians were accused of: getting up before dawn on Sunday, which was a work day back then, singing together about Jesus, making oaths to not commit fraud, theft, or adultery. Promising not to tell lies when making business decisions, and promising to pay back their debts on time! Oh, and they also got together and had fellowship at other times and ate food, innocent and ordinary food. What was that all about? Well the rumors, because of the communion, was that they were cannibals and Pliny had investigated those claims and found them to be false. I think Governor Pliny's dilemma was he realized they were killing some of their best citizens, and it was easy to spot the Christians of that day because the way they lived their lives, evidence was not hard to come by. Here's a sobering thought…

If you were arrested for being a Christian, and they examined your behavior, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Ok, next point! 

Called to Submit 

1 Peter 2:13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men:  whether to the king, as the supreme authority,

14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.

16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

Why would God want us to submit to earthly authorities? Without the rule of law, there would be chaos and anarchy, and the world would not be a fit place for anyone to live. In fact, Peter says submit for the Lord's sake! We don't have to agree with everything our leaders say or do, and in fact we are to question things, and hold leaders accountable! However, if we don't do this respectfully we dishonor God and will not be taken seriously. Respect the office even if you don't respect the holder of that office and act respectfully towards everyone! What did Peter say the authorities are supposed to do? "Punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right!" In other words, submission means we don't take the law into our own hands. We trust God to work through the authorities. This is called Civil obedience and is appropriate conduct for Christians. I know what you are thinking. "What if they ask us to do ungodly things, or forbid us to do the things God has called us to do?" Good question! Glad the message is challenging you to think. If the government starts asking us to do things against our convictions, then it is subject to challenge, but we are to do this respectfully. In these situations the citizens become a moral compass and conscience to help the state see it's error. If they do not see their error and demand us to worship someone other than God, or to act in a way that violates our convictions then we may clearly disobey. 

However, the problem, at times in the past, is some folks, in the name of religious freedom, seek to ignore or disobey laws that aren't ungodly. They just don't like the law or it's inconvenient. Peter addresses this... 

1 Peter 2:16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

Now we come to a difficult passage in the Bible. Let me read it to you and then help us to understand the spiritual truths for the folks back then and for us today. Let's read...

1 Peter 2:18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.

19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.

20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

Let me be quick to point this out: just because the Bible talks about slavery and gives instructions to folks who found themselves in the position of being a slave in no way constitutes an endorsement of slavery. It has never been, and will never be right for a human being to own another human being. Never! The Bible does not condone slavery. But it acknowledged the the realities of the day, and gave advice for people in circumstances they could not change. Slavery was a reality when Peter wrote his letter and there were Christian brothers and sisters who were slaves and needed to know how to deal with their situation. Peter knows he could not change their circumstances so he shared with them a wise and Christian way of coping. They were to submit with respect to the kind and considerate owners as well as the ones who were not so nice. Talk about a difficult assignment! But here's the deal, when you return kindness and Christ-likeness in the face of mistreatment and injustice, God uses that to convict the wrong doer. Think about our own history in America with the civil rights movement. In Selma Alabama, when protesters knelt on that bridge, some praying, and they were beaten, it changed our nation. We realized that something was terribly wrong and things began to change. Slowly, but surely.

Now, I know you may be thinking that slavery is not really an issue for you, so we'll look at these verses in another context you might connect with. Anybody in here ever work for someone that was cruel, dishonest, and just downright mean? And the circumstances were such that you couldn't just go find another job? So how do you cope? How do you engage that kind of culture with the truth of the gospel? First of all, have integrity, stay honest and truthful and never compromise your convictions! Secondly, always take the high road! Paul gave some instructions on this topic as well in the Book of Romans. I think Romans 12:14-21 could be labeled "Rules of Engagement for the Work Place!" Check it out…

Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

(My translation: Your language should reflect your walk with Jesus!)

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

(My translation: When someone else gets a promotion, be happy for them. When a co-worker is hurting, let them know you care!)

16a Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. 

(My translation: Be a peace maker. Be humble!  Befriend the one who is lowest on the food chain and has no power to help you advance in the company. God will see that act of kindness and will promote you in ways you could not imagine! And when He does…)

16b Do not be conceited.

(My translationGive God the credit due Him! And when you are intentionally overlooked for a promotion and it is given to someone with lesser abilities and they flaunt it…)

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.

18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written:  “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Wait a minute, did Paul say to take the "bane of my existence" out to lunch or to Starbucks? Yes, I think he did. And why would he do that? Well, it has to do with the call to illustrate!

Called to Illustrate 

1 Peter 2:21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example,  that you should follow in his steps.

22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

It's clear that the healing He is talking about is healing from the disease of sin! Let me read it again...

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Peter is very clear here that Jesus suffered for us, leaving us an example, and we are to follow in His steps. Something struck me the other night as I was in a religious discussion with someone on the phone. There is some religion gone bad out there in our world! Religion that condones violence and the taking of innocent life in the name of God. And I wish that I could say that Christianity has never been guilty of that but I can't. People have done horrible things in the past in the name of Jesus, but I can say this, they were not following Jesus' example! They were not following Jesus' teachings! They were renegades! I can also say I believe Christianity has learned from its mistakes. I mean, Baptist aren't killing Methodist, and the Pentecostals aren't attacking the Catholics. We don't agree on everything, but we live together in peace and our common bond is what Jesus did on the Cross when He set for us the divine example of what it means to love and to forgive!

And here's something else that struck me during that conversation. Peter, the one writing this letter, the one who says Jesus should be our example for living, that same Peter is the Peter who had been personally tutored by Jesus on this subject! Listen...

Luke 22:47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him,

48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?”

50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. (we know it was Peter from John 18:10-11)

51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Would you be willing to heal the soldier who was coming to arrest you and take you to your crucifixion? Jesus did, and He did it as an example of how we should engage our culture with His truth, His love, His forgiveness, His purpose! I know, I know, this is not an easy pill to swallow! The culture out there is not so nice to Christians today! But Jesus, the way He lived His life and then the way He gave His live illustrates for us the way to engage our world with the God's truth. We live as Jesus lived, and we give the way Jesus gave, and in doing so we illustrate the way of the cross to the world!

1 Peter 2:23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

 

Ending illustration: When I was in college I worked for Sears in the maintenance agreement sales department. It was kind of like insurance on the stuff you bought. In that office I worked with a guy named Hans and a girl named Rose. Hans was an atheist and he loved to draw me into debates with him about this. I liked Hans and we both had a great love for music, but he would really push me on things sometimes. However, God gave me the strength to be loving and respectful towards him. It wasn't easy. However, when I left that job, Rose gave me a going away gift. It was a small picture with a saying written on it. Here's the saying...

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."

Henry David Thoreau

On the back of that little wooden plaque, she wrote something like this: "Larry, you hear a different drummer and I really respect that! Don't stop listening to your drummer!"

That gift taught me the importance of illustrating the gospel of Jesus with the way we live our lives around other people! You may be the only Jesus some folks will ever see!

Let's pray!