Verses 1-4 »» “That” makes John the Apostle like Graham Greene 1
Verse 5 »» American Idol, Katy Perry, Bebe Rexha, and 1 John 1:5 2
Lesson date: March 13th, 2016
Lesson date:March 20th, 2016
Lesson date: March 27th, 2016
A Christian community should be known for its spirit of cooperation not a spirit of competition. Peter in verse 5 puts into place a guideline for the other side of pastoral ministry: the people of the church community. He terms them young men. He then gives the whole community an admonition unto humility and points to God as the rationale.
“5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:5-7–ESV)
In studying verse 2 it seemed evident that God puts his leaders into fitting positions. Leaders do not start off mature. Leaders do not start of pure. The positions God gives are useful unto the maturity and purification of the leader. The God assigned positions will lead there while serving as God would have them serve. That is from verse 2.
The leader or pastor serves in the church community and in verse 5 the community is given admonition unto their role. They are to let the leader lead, the shepherd shepherd. The “same way” is best understood with the phrase “as God would have it” from verse 2.3“…shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;not for shameful gain, but eagerly. (ESV) They are to be subject to the leaders. There is a symbiosis here, almost a dance if you will. The moves of one are responded to by the moves of the other. In the church the choreography is God directed.
The tune of this verse is one that I have long held to be fraught with risk. If that seems incongruous let me explain. From God’s perspective the pastor is the church boss. His leadership does not merely function under the church roof, but he guides the church community in their comings and goings as a group. What if I am not comfortable with what he suggests or which activities he assigns (assume here that they are not things against the scriptures or godliness) the church? In some manner I have found myself to fear pastors. I have found myself worried that they will tell the church community that we have to go knocking on doors and handing out fliers. 2None recently has. What is wrong with this perspective? It is one where God is forgotten. God places the leader into a position of authority in the church to be matured and to lead others to maturity. The church is God’s structure. The people of God’s structure he can and will protect and refine. What is going to harm me if I am eager to follow the God-chosen pastor?3There is a bit of a reference to 1 Peter 3:13 here. That verse says, “13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?” (ESV)Will discomfort harm? Not likely.
Humility is the second half of this verse. While I may fear what the pastor may lead us toward that fear comes because of the instruction to follow, and I am fearful of what he might lead toward. To be subject to the pastor is to follow not fight the pastor and to follow willingly not grudgingly4also a verse 2 perspective. In the following one must have humility not pride. We are not to rise up and try to take from the pastor his God given role of leadership. God will oppose that, and it is never good to get into a fight with God.
Humility fosters cooperation. Pride fosters competition. One provides a buffer that builds up the community and the other provides the blades that chop up a community.
Verse 6 points out the advantage of humility. God lifts the humble up. Humility avails, enables, a lifting up. Pride avails a bringing down. It is in this context that verse 7 is placed. Is there anxiety from humility? Is their anxiety from following a pastor? Is their a sense of risk that comes from following the pastor? All of that can safely be placed upon God. Take each fear and uncertainty apply to it the solvent of God’s care and let God dissolve it. There are many other ways this 7th verse is and can be applied, but here it is applied to a situation I have known.
The life lived as a godly elder makes a difference now and later. In the sports banquet of heaven when the coach of the chief Shepherd takes the podium men and women will be called up and given honor. The best honor is that crown of glory given by God himself. Seek it we should. Seek it we must.
“And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (1 Peter 5:4–ESV)
The chief Shepherd was working through Peter to instruct and guide elders, under-shepherds. The chief Shepherd is Jesus Christ, the shepherd from heaven. His life on earth was sandwiched between the highest position (heaven) and basest abuse (crucifixion). In submission to God the Father he laid aside that which was his to become that which we needed. That was the example that must be taken to heart in all who would lead. Most err toward what Christ left behind (heavenly prowess). Some err toward self-inflicted suffering. Neither extreme is of excellence. Neither extreme is obedience. Both extremes can be rebellion and sin in the clothes of religion. All leaders should aim to do what God has instructed and to where God has led them. All who would come after Christ must leave the lasting crown for a God-giving in a future time. None must self-assign the crown. That is pride.
The crown of glory that one will receive from God will not be for duty done5verse 2, money earned2verse 2 or people manipulated3verse 3. It will rather be for character. This is seen because of the conjunction “and” which begins this verse. Live verse 2 and live verse 3 and when the chief Shepherd who provided the chief example is revealed then comes honor.
Questions that will determine the crowning include: Did one shepherd…willingly? Was one generous? Was one an example of service? In a manner the crown may arrive before death. In a manner one’s goals may arrive before death. If one wants money, one may get it (and pastors are seen who live in luxury). There is the reward. If one wants the pseudo-honor that comes from lording it over the church members, deacons, and people that surround oneself one may get it here (and pastors are seen who live in lordship). There is the reward. All will be judged after the chief shepherd arrives. For those who sought the earthly reward what will be seen is that their reward came and their reward left. It ended when they did. End of story; end of glory. The crown of glory was there, but it faded away and is gone. Things done, though, from the motivation of Godliness do not fade away. They last forever.
Maybe a Joshua phrase can be here raised: Choose you this day whom you will serve.
Christ gave an example of wrongful leaders in Mark 12:38-405“38 And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces 39 and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 40 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” (Mark 12:38-40–ESV). There Christ is recorded as castigating the Pharisees for their motives. They were to be shepherds, but were self-assigners. They lived the downside of 1 Peter 5:2 and 3. They had their reward and it faded.
Leadership is necessary. Leadership happens. Some leaders face anxiety over leading and shepherd too little. Some leaders have too little anxiety and dominate.
Peter having witnessed and struggled with the leadership style of Christ was molded by it and now sought to spread it. The instructions and manner of leadership as Christ would have it Peter records here. This is a source text of godly leadership. We should start with the scriptures and let God guide us into how his style fits with our gifts and abilities.
“1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:1-3; ESV)
“…willingly, as God would have you…” says the text. God’s pattern is always one of submission. God wants willing leaders, but there are many things man resists. The leader is to move from must to eager, from drudgery to enthusiasm. This is not mental. It is spiritual. It is not about rightness of the mind, but rightness of the will. The will is where the battle must be won. When any leader 4or follower hates (even a little bit) the direction of God they must take that hate to God for a little rebellion like yeast works its way through the whole person. They must get alone with God and stay there until the battle for the will is decided in God’s direction. 5Oswald Chambers has a great lesson on this in My Utmost for His Highest for December 27th. This may take years. It may take moments. It may be a style of struggle that rises over and over, but to move from must to eager, from drudgery to enthusiasm is of utmost importance. Ministry from must produces a different product than ministry from enthusiasm. Constrained activity has poorer results than willing activity.
A leader is often in a position of strength. Peter as a young follower of Christ was comfortable with leaders dominating. It probably can be said that he was comfortable being dominated. By extension one would figure that Peter would expect at that young stage to dominate those behind (below) him on the totem pole. Why do I say that? Look to that time when Christ came to wash Peter’s feet. To say that Peter recoiled from that would not be going too far. That approach touched something very instinctive to Peter. He became awkward and his awkward talked. Check out John 13 if you want to see the sparks get quenched.
By this stage in Peter’s life that lesson is installed. He now teaches it. It is a lesson that must be learned for humanity is more familiar with competition than cooperation. Cooperation as fellow followers of Christ in our God given roles and personalities will assemble into excellence on all levels.
Some summary topics, other ideas…
A Christian must only experience honorable suffering.There are many ways to experience troubles in this life. When troubles come it should not be for misbehavior. Murder, theft and even meddling are shameful for the one who would be in the church or proclaim oneself as a Christian.
“15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1Peter 4:15-19; ESV)
Suffering and mistreatment for godliness is honorable. That type of suffering is not shameful. In this verse Peter says do not act as if persecution is shameful. Remember verse 1 of this chapter which said that the one who suffers is done with sin. They are done with the anti-God approach to life which comes from being turned in on oneself rather than turned out toward God. So the proper response is to praise God, to arm oneself with the attitude of Christ. Such a person must not turn in and slink away, but turn out and praise. They are not to feel inadequate and small or live under a cloud of “I told you so” which may generate around one by friends and family (that is being ashamed). If the devil can thwart one’s recognition of the higher principles he can limit one’s strength. The proper response is to glorify God that one was considered worthy of such suffering.
In the church of God there was to be goodness. Verse 15 was important because it reminded Christians that they were to be good in the common sense of the word. They were to avoid those behaviors which were held to be universally indecent. People naturally understand that murder and theft are to be avoided. One does not have to be Christian to know that, and when these things are done the law punishes. That punishment is a suffering. In this verse Peter states that the church should be cleansed. In the first place Christians should not do them. Those who do them should be brought to judgment. So the church of God does not provide sanctuary for sin.
In Christ’s time the Pharisees and the other religious leaders were accepted by the people as being righteous. The leaders were considered icons of godliness by the people and by themselves. Jesus brought many examples of how this had broken down. They were whitewashed tombs he said. As he walked to the cross (Luke 23:31) he said that if men would perform as unjustly as they were with himself when the times were good how would they perform when the times were terrible? In that view those considered righteous were not even being saved. If those considered by mankind to be of first rank before God are not easily turned from their wickedness what about those outside the church?
Not everyone will find suffering to be the norm. In chapter 3:13 of this letter Peter rhetorically asked about who is going to harm the Christian who is eager to do good. It happens, but it is not the norm. That does not rule it out however. Here Peter says that should honorable suffering happen that sufferer should put themselves at the disposal of Christ. Christ is that person’s creator; that person’s redeemer. Christ’s faithfulness does not quit so keep on keeping on in the good and honorable things of life.
Look at Moses’ life in regard to this. He was judged by his fellow Hebrews and put on the run from his Egyptian benefactors. Forty years in the desert would he wonder. He would suffer when he returned but the creator was faithful. Moses learned to commit himself to God. That was honorable and he is still held in honor. God is faithful.
Some key concepts: