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"Advent Unwrapped, Pt.2: PEACE"

Dec.10 2017 Huron Chapel - 1Peter 3:10-12


It’s the second Sunday of Advent, and the traditional focus is on PEACE. That can be a scarce commodity in today’s world, however. What are some common ‘peace-robbers’ – things that sabotage and steal our peace, and breed conflict in relationships?

             (Photo - N Korea ICBM launch) On Nov.28 North Korea posed a new threat to peace by the launch of its latest ICBM, which has a range that’s estimated to be long enough to imperil all of North America. Canada responded by opening up a couple of bunkers at military bases in case the federal cabinet needs to be evacuated at some point. After having witnessed the thawing of the Cold War from the 1950s-60s, are we again to be plunged back into it from a new angle?

             (Photo of game controller) Other sources of conflict come much closer to home. Many young men these days are not so much concerned about nuclear war as they are about winning their next level of online war games. Recently I saw a young female tweet a complaint about her boyfriend playing 7 hours of Call of Duty. “Press A!” “No, press B!” does not make for relationship-enhancing conversation.

             Gaming can be one type of obsession. There are many other addictions, to which our affluent society is prone. Cannabis factories are popping up; the opioid crisis is claiming lives across the country. Addicts may be willing to break laws and steal from their own families in order to get their next “fix”. Prescription medications, while more socially acceptable, have their own tempting abuses.

             A wife called the doctor one morning, saying, “Doctor, come quick! It’s my husband!” He calmly replied, “What’s the matter?” She answered, “Well he got up this morning and took his vitamin pill.Then he took his appetite suppressant, his anti-depressant, and his tranquilizer.He also took an antihistamine and some Benzedrine.Then he lit a cigarette, and there was this explosion!” (!)

             Barriers to peace in our personal relationships come in varied forms. What are some of the most common causes of conflict in a marriage? Rodney Wilson, a marriage and family pastor/counselor for almost 20 years, identifies ten of these in a blog post. Can you guess what’s number ONE on his list? What do couples argue about so much? MONEY! Wilson comments, “This cause of conflict represents a lot of stuff, namely control, power and trust.I have counseled many couples where one mate has misused their money and the broken trust is just as severe as in an affair.”

             Number 2 in Wilson’s list is KIDS - disciplining them, running them to team games, vying for their attention. Third is SEX - frequency, functional difficulties, sex outside the marriage. 4th is WORK - too long hours, too much travel, not making enough. 5th - IN-LAWS: couples may not successfully ‘leave & cleave’. 6th - TIME COMMITMENTS - getting overbooked, for example; it’s December! “Tell me about it.” Someone I was speaking to recently was telling me they have SEVEN different family Christmases to go to around the 25th: divorces and family fractures make it an extra hectic and stressful time of year, not one of “peace and goodwill toward men”.

             7th EX-BOYFRIENDS OR EX-GIRLFRIENDS – social media makes it all too easy to re-connect with that “old flame”. 8th MISUNDERSTANDING - unclear communication: you think your partner means one thing, but in fact she meant something else. 9th UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS - secretly we WANT them to be perfect and are disappointed when their behaviour is not. And 10th Rodney Wilson lists STERN TALK - sarcasm, being manipulative, cheap shots, lack of respect or kindness. All too easy a trap to fall into when you’ve become SO familiar with each other over the years.

             So, how as Christians can we start to introduce God’s PEACE into these situations? The Apostle Peter’s first letter suggests it all starts with who we are in Christ. There’s a little poem or rhyme that I’d like you to learn with me today, for our outline. I’ll say it once first, then get you to repeat after me:




(repeat again, line by line, with response)

Let’s break this apart bit by bit.


Peace evaporates when there’s conflict. At a very basic level, conflict on a human level can be represented by a game we probably played on the schoolyard or in the barnyard as a child: [chanting] “I’m the king of the castle / You’re the dirty rascal!” - as we pushed any other would-be kings down the side of the heap - er, ‘castle’. We want to be the one on top, the one in control, the one OVER any challengers. Our flesh, the unregenerate inner person, lusts for power.

             However, Jesus has a different vision for His people. If we are born again, IN Christ, sharing His nature, renewed by the Holy Spirit – we have died to the old self and renounced the world’s way of vying for control. God calls us not to be ‘king of the castle’ but to be PRIESTS.

             Nov.26 Pastor Mark spoke of our return to God and repentance. Dec.3 he kicked off this series looking at the miracle of being “born again” Peter emphasizes in his first letter; 1:3 “In His great mercy [God] has given us new birth into a living hope...” 2:2 “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk...” That old nature has to be mortified! But we’re not to stay babies! Verses 5&9 in chapter two carry a bombshell of an image that rocked the medieval Catholic church and was pivotal in the Reformation. 2:5 “...You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a [HERE IT IS AGAIN!] royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

             Your fundamental identity is not to be a PUSHER (pushing someone down the heap) but a PRIEST. A priest exists for 2 parties outside themselves: for God, and another person, mediating God’s blessing and forgiveness – pronouncing favour, receiving sacrifices, making atonement. Of course Jesus is the only true Mediator between God and people (1Tim 2:5). But Scripture calls us into a similar subsidiary role, ministering Christ’s grace to those we meet – interceding for others, speaking for the Lord, presenting His message and invitation.

             The organizational chart of the church is extremely FLAT, like a pancake: the Reformers trumpeted “the priesthood of all believers”. We are each other’s confessors: James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” The apostles set forth various offices or appointments within the church for sake of functioning, allowing people scope for the exercise of the gifts God has given them, but it’s extremely un-hierarchical. Later Peter appeals to elders to, 5:2 “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care SERVING as overseers,” not greedy for money, 5:3 “not LORDING IT OVER” (that would be ‘king of the castle’ style!) but being examples accountable to the sole Chief Shepherd, Jesus.

             So your whole demeanour as a Christian should not be VICTIMIZING (taking advantage of others or putting the down) but VICARIOUS, priestly – “How can I serve you? What grace are you needing from God today? What’s my part in facilitating that for you? How can I minister to you in Christ’s name and for His glory, His credit?” That’s not easy; it requires unselfishness. You’ve got to have a power source beyond yourself. So, what powers it? All that God has already done for us!

             Contemplate all God’s already accomplished for us, as Peter lists it. 2:3 “now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” MMMM! 2:9 “...Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” 2:10 “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (Grammatically, that’s the perfect tense: nobody’s going to take that away!) 2:21 “To this you were called” – what’s the “this”? Verse before tells us it’s to endure suffering for doing good. Now, that’s TOUGH! What can possibly give us MMPH to power that? Read on: “Because CHRIST SUFFERED FOR YOU, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.”

             The fuel you put in your car’s tank is gasoline (or diesel - or propane, etc). The fuel you put in your personal spiritual tank is appreciation of all God’s done for you: His goodness, His light, His redemption of you to buy you as His, His mercy, His suffering so you might be forgiven. Appreciate all those things! Then, “tanked up”, you will overflow with praise. 2:5 “you...are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 2:9 “But you are...a royal priesthood...that [purpose clause!] you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

             Priests (Christ-followers) offer the sacrifice of praise. What noises do those around you typically hear proceeding from your lips: GRUMBLING – or GRATITUDE? What’s the Bible saying here is more appropriate for one who’s a “priest”?

             God has called you to be a HOLY priesthood, a ROYAL (for the King) priesthood. 3:15 offers the key we need to develop a mindset of priest-liness: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.” NRSV “sanctify” Christ as Lord; the Greek verb ‘hagiazo’ means to “make holy”, set something apart for holy or sacred use. As you start your day, have you elevated and honoured Jesus in your consciousness to make HIM King of your castle – your day – your interactions – your existence? GOD MAKES ME A PRIEST – live it!


(recap outline) The self-focused ‘king of the castle’ mindset assumes I have to look out for my own best interests; I have to make my own rules, call the shots. But a Christian worldview is always mindful WE are not God; we’re accountable to Him, He is the ultimate Judge – and He defends and justifies those who live for Him. We don’t have to be ‘big shots’ (as the world sees it) in order to matter to matter to God. 1Peter 2:4 “As you come to [Jesus], the living Stone— rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—” See that? Jesus was a “reject” as far as the Pharisees and chief priests of His day were concerned; they crucified Him. But to God He was precious, and God raised Him from the dead. 1Peter 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer...” If you’re a Christian, God’s paying special attention to you – not because He’s out to get you or waiting for you to slip up, but because He delights in watching His children! 2Chronicles 16:9 (this is the verse I couldn’t remember the reference for at the men’s breakfast) “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” Psalm 11(4) notes God’s eyes EXAMINE people; Proverbs 15(3) says His eyes are everywhere, watching the evil and the good. God sees, He’s omniscient, He knows everything that’s going on.

             Before Jesus was born, after His mother Mary received the news she would give birth to God incarnate, Mary celebrated God’s upside-down style of kingdom in her song the Magnificat. Lk 1:48,52 “For he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant...He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.” God WATCHES OVER THE LEAST.

             This becomes particularly important when we get into settings of potential conflict. We don’t have to “settle the score” in an argument: God is much more capable and better equipped to right any wrongs we may suffer! If God can bring down rulers from their thrones, He is more than capable of bringing down my opponent a notch if needed. 1Peter 3:9 “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” Get that? If you’re insulted, BLESS in response – so God will eventually reward YOU with blessing. This is Jesus’ style! 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.”

             The Apostle Paul took the same approach in Romans 12. V14 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Wow, that’s radical! Who else said something like that? Check out the Sermon on the Mount! (Mt.5:44) Paul continues in Rom 12:17, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.” Vv18f, “...Live at peace with everyone.[BINGO! HOW THOUGH?] Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath...”

             Let’s recap our outline. (All together) Because God makes me a priest - and watches over the least...


Because I don’t have to be ‘head honcho’, and because God’s watching over everything and will square things up at the last, I am freed from protecting my ‘castle’ to live vulnerably, openly, serving others, absorbing their abuse, injecting Jesus’ grace into all my relationships: in short, to be an agent of His peace. Look closely at 1Peter 3:11, “He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.” NLT “Search for peace, and work to maintain it.” (It does take work!)

             In his pastoral letter, Peter addresses four broad areas of society, four spheres, in which Christians can be pursuing peace. First is the sphere of COMMUNITY (2:12-17), ‘among the pagans’: we’re to live ‘good lives’ and do ‘good deeds’ (v12), ‘live as servants of God’ (v17), ‘abstain from sinful desires’ (v11), bear witness “with gentleness and respect” (3:15). So much strife would be avoided if people just observed common decency and had respect for others!

             Time Magazine has chosen as its “person of the year” not just one individual, but a whole collection of people whose voices broke the silence about sexual assault, from agricultural workers to Silicone Valley to Hollywood stars. Broader than just the #MeToo campaign, though that’s part of it. Have basic respect for other people’s persons and none of that would have happened.

             Ours is an anti-authoritarian age: “Nobody’s going to tell ME what to do!” Peter urges us to submit to institutional authority in 2:13-17. Summed up in 2:17 “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the king.”

             Next he moves on to the WORKPLACE in 2:18-25 (although thankfully slavery is not now how we operate – except underground in sex trafficking, etc). Again, workers are to submit “with all respect” (2:17). We’re to bear up under and endure suffering and hardship (2:19f) being “conscious of God” – again, because we believe God sees the big picture, we don’t have to take matters into our own hands.

             At the start of chapter 3 Peter relates this to the sphere of HOME & MARRIAGE (3:1-7). There’s to be purity and reverence (3:2), a gentle and quiet spirit (3:4), submissiveness – and before husbands jump on this bandwagon, recall Ephesians 5:21 - “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Again, Jesus being supreme prohibits me as husband from trying to act like I’m lord in my own home.

             Men, if you want a PEACEful marriage, note well 1Peter 3:7 - “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” God is watching! He’s part of the picture.

             Be CONSIDERATE – thoughtful, look at things from her point of view. TREAT HER WITH RESPECT [SURPRISE!!] - there it is again. NRSV “Paying HONOUR to the woman” – fellas, have your wives felt HONOURED by you lately? Or just ordered around? A gruff command here, a grunt there? You know the Greek term Peter uses here means honour, price, to pay something PRECIOUS, valuing... Same root as back in 2:17, “Honour the king.” If your wife felt more highly valued by you, might that not help make your relationship more peaceful?

             A missionary in West Africa visited a sick church member. Since the sick man’s wife was also present, he asked them several questions, one being whether they lived in peace together. The man answered, “Sometimes I say a word my wife doesn’t like, or my wife talks or does what I don’t like; but when we start to quarrel, we shake hands, shut the door, and go to prayer.So peace is restored again.” Try that pattern on for size!

             The fourth sphere Peter addresses is that of the CHURCH, the fellowship of believers, the “one anothering”. See 1Peter 3:8, “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.” Let’s take that a chunk at a time.

             “Live in harmony with one another”, NRSV “have unity of spirit”, literally be ‘one-minded’. How’s it going, Huron Chapel? Are you marching to the same drum? Is there genuine harmony, or disunity? If there’s disagreement, what’s the first step YOU might take to initiate dialogue so you can “seek peace and pursue it”? Have you really seriously striven to find ANY common ground with those who see things differently? What can you agree on, and build on?

             Next in 3:8 is “be sympathetic”, literally suffering or feeling ‘with’ another. What pain or hurt or disappointment is the other person feeling? Can you acknowledge that in your own words?

             Next is “love as brothers” (and today we would add, sisters). PHILEO one another. Can you make gestures of friendliness? Would they feel they can call on you in the middle of the night if there’s an emergency? Have you shared a meal together? Can you pray for their kids as if they were your own niece or nephew?

             Next, “be compassionate”, NRSV “a tender heart”, literally “good bowels” – when something happens in their world, do you feel it in your innards, does it tug your gut – or leave you unaffected? See also 1:22, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” Is that true of this church? Who could resist wanting to be part of a group like that? Do you really want your church to grow? Work on loving one another. Mend those fences. Take the first step. What’s one practical loving initiative you might offer that would signal to the other you want to get past your differences, for the sake of Christ?

             Finally in 3:8, “[Be] humble.” NRSV humble-minded, literally friendly, courteous, kind. One of the lexicon’s definitions for a root in the original language here is, “one of the bridegroom’s friends who on his behalf asked the hand of the bride and rendered him various services in closing the marriage and celebrating the nuptials.” What do we call that today? The ‘best man’! For women, the ‘maid of honour’ – usually a role reserved for one’s ‘best bud’. How would you treat that person down the pew from you if they had asked you to be their best man, their maid of honour? Honestly, what WOULDN’T you do for someone who asks you to be their best man? That’s a very honoured role, enlisting the most sacrificial service.

             Part of humility is accepting others’ rightful leadership. Last time I was with you, Huron Chapel, we looked at the admonition of the author of Hebrews 13 to “remember your leaders...imitate their faith” (v7) and to “obey your leaders and submit to their authority” and be obedient “so that their work will be a joy, not a burden” (v17) – how’s that going? Have you made progress in that department? I’m happy to see you set Christmas love-offering boxes out today and the 17th in order to bless your staff. But I don’t know ANY church leader who wouldn’t trade any amount of monetary gift for a congregation that lived up to Peter’s adjectives in 3:8 – living in harmony, being sympathetic and compassionate, humble, living as brothers and sisters. That’s priceless! (Give me that over a Ferrari any day!)


One last time, let’s recap our outline, let it sink in as you say it: “Because God makes me a PRIEST - and watches over the LEAST - I’m an agent of His PEACE.” Come down off your high hill, stop pushing others around and, conscious of your own Master and the lengths He went to in order to lift you to Himself – SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.

             The season of Christmas reminds us of the condescension Christ the only-begotten Son of God underwent in order to minister to us mere mortals. He paid the price for our peace toward heaven and each other. Thomas Watson the Puritan writer put it this way. “God the Son is called the Prince of Peace. He came into the world with a song of peace: ‘On earth peace...’ He went out of the world with a legacy of peace, ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you.’ Christ’s earnest prayer was for peace; He prayed that His people might be one. Christ not only prayed for peace, but bled for peace: ‘Having made peace through the blood of His cross.’ He died not only to make peace between God and man, but between man and man. Christ suffered on the cross, that He might cement Christians together with His blood; as He prayed for peace, so He paid for peace.” Let’s pray.