Friday, May 12, 2023

To The Church-In-General

Bobservations' Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Peter does a “wrap-up” of this, his first Epistle in Chapter 5. Peter has been changed, even to His personality and methods of accomplishing things. That Jesus has touched his life is evident throughout the Epistle. From a rough, impulsive fisherman, Peter is a Church Elder and a teacher here, concerned with every member of every flock that was to read this message. And as a General Epistle to be read in the churches mentioned in Verse 1.

Forgiven are Peter’s actions against the servant of the High Priest when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Even Peter’s boastful attitude is now gone and forgiven. He has learned much about the mercy and forgiveness of God.

The topic of this letter is living in a Christ rejecting world. Peter seems aware that his days on Earth are numbered because of the persecution from Caesar Nero, one of the vilest of the Caesars.

The overall theme of the letter is “suffering as a Christian.” Though such a topic is difficult, Peter handles his words to every believer with gentleness and encouragement. Persecution was (is) to be expected because of our beliefs. And Peter teaches that the way to handle any level of religious persecution against us is by the example of Jesus, even as He faced the cross: quietly, prayerfully, without anger, and without trying to build a defense for self, but with an expectation of future glory.

Peter would surely have been with Jesus after His resurrection, most every day until His Ascension into heaven. Jesus’ last words to Peter and the other Apostles were of their commission to preach the Gospel in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the Earth. They were to be His witnesses and give testimony of Him to all, wherever they went. Jesus’ words to Peter should echo in our own ears: “If you love me, feed my lambs, feed my sheep, feed my sheep (John 21:15-17). And with this great commission, all eyes were upon the Lord, perhaps expecting further instructions, and more details…

Acts 1:9 - 
“And when He has spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”

Today's Audio Message:
1 Peter 5:1-14 - "To the Church-in-General"


Peter closes out his letter to the scattered Christians in the churches of Asia Minor with some final instructions. He counsels the elders about how to lead, includes how and why to live in humility with each other, and gives a final warning to be clear-minded and alert.

Peter counts himself as one of the elders. And so, he passes on the same instructions Jesus gave to him: to feed and shepherd Christ's sheep. That is the role of an elder in the local church: to serve as a shepherd of the "flock of God." Peter insists that those who are called to lead are not to do so by constraint, or for money or power, but with humility because they love the Lord Jesus. They should lead first and foremost by example, showing others in the church how to follow Christ by doing so themselves. When Christ returns, He will reward those shepherds with an unfading crown of glory.

In the same way, those who are younger are called to be subject to these shepherds. Newer believers should see more experienced Christians as a God-given authority in their lives. This, of course, also puts additional responsibility on those older Christians to live in a way that honors the Lord, leads others to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Peter then addresses all Christians with this: Put on humility toward each other out of submission to God. God is God, and we are not. We are to humble ourselves under His hand, understanding that our only significance is found in Him. We can freely stop promoting ourselves, because He will exalt us, when the time in due season. One such act of humility is this: "Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you" (vs 5).  He loves us as a Father loves his children.  He wants us to look to Him and trust Him with all of our needs.  He already knows our needs before we do.

Peter then instructs his readers for the third time to be clear-minded (or sober-minded) and alert. The reason he offers this time is that we have a mortal enemy prowling around and seeking to devour us. The devil is portrayed as a lion, preying on the vulnerable and easy prey.  We are instructed to engage in resisting him.  Be alert!  Be aware!  Our adversary the devil is seeking to discredit the Name of Jesus Christ. 
Resist steadfast!  Immoveable Faith! We need to focus on staying firm in our faith, both in Christ, and in God's plan for us.  That plan may include suffering for the brief course of this life. And yet, it also includes a permanent end to suffering and a future in which our Father—forever powerful—will perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle us forever.

Finally, Peter signs off with a commendation for Silvanus, who will likely deliver this letter to the churches, as well as greetings from the Christians where he was, including his son in the faith, Mark.

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