Imagine that you work for a PR firm. You have been assigned the task of rebranding a group with a questionable background. In the past, they have been accused of cannibalism, immorality & incest, atheism, political disloyalty, arson, splitting families, destroying the economy, and inciting rebellion among workers. What would you do to change their image?
When Plato was told that certain individual was making slanderous charges against him, Plato’s response was: “I will live in such a way that no one will believe what he says.”
Plato’s response is similar to the advice given by the apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:11-12. He was well aware that Christians were accused of many things, including those charges mentioned in the first paragraph. Peter’s advice to the first century believers and to us as well is to live in such a way that unbelievers will be convinced and God will be glorified.
These two verse serve as a bridge between the opening section of the book on salvation (1:1-2:12) and the following section on submission (2:13-3:12). Not only do these verses describe the mission of the church, but they help us to understand how we are to submit as individuals to God’s plan. Verse 11 presents the instruction negatively while verse 12 states it positively.
Live like a Foreigner (11a). Rather than issue a command, Peter appeals to our sense of what is right. He comes alongside as a friend rather than as an apostle. He reminds us that since this world is not our true home, we must resist the temptation to “go native.” We must travel light and not adopt the values of the culture in which we find ourselves.
Live a Disciplined Life (11b). Like Odysseus, we must resist the siren song of the world. The world encourages us to pursue pleasure, nurse grudges, be materialistic, harbor jealousy, champion individualism, become cynical and critical, pursue selfish ambition, and follow the gods of sex, money, and power. We must remember that we are in a spiritual battle and these desires wage war and attack our souls. We must stand firm and resist.
Live a “Good” Life (12a). Keep in mind that unsaved people are constantly watching to see how we live and respond to the events of life. A “good life” is composed of good deeds. Do you have a solid marriage? Are your children respectful? Are you a good employee? Do you pay your bills on time? Do you act honestly? Are you a good neighbor? These questions help to define what excellent, honorable behavior looks like.
Live Convincingly (12b). We must realize that our lives are an advertisement for Christianity. While we may be accused of wrongdoing, we should live in such a way that unbelievers will be convinced and God will be glorified. The “day of visitation” could refer to a time when God brings judgment on the wicked or when he brings mercy and salvation to his people. In terms of good works, serve your neighbors, organize a block watch, be a tutor at a local school, serve as a sports coach, help out at a crisis pregnancy care center or a homeless shelter, or become a volunteer at a senior center.
Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf was a leader of the Protestant mission movement in the 18th Century. He established the Order of the Mustard Seed with the following guiding principles: (1) Be kind to all people. (2) Seek their welfare. (3) Win them to Christ.
Live a godly life in order to prove your salvation is real.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on May 27, 2018. It is part of a series of sermons on 1 Peter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.