I was re-reading our verses from this week and got caught up in the very first one. "Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you...". God is inviting us to be active thinkers. Society may want to characterize us as blind sheep, foolishly stumbling in the darkness of our own confusion. Well, not so fast society. God is telling us here to engage our whole brains, to examine the evidence and come to the logical conclusion.
It is logical to believe in Jesus. Just about every respected historian on the planet religious or secular- agrees that Jesus was a real historical figure. The Bible may be our best record of Christ but it's not the only one. Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman historian who lived from AD 55-120 confirmed that Christ was executed by Pilate. Flavius Josephus a Jewish historian and Pharisee who lived from AD 37-100 recorded that the Christ who performed miracles was executed by Pilate. There's another man known as Pliny the younger, who actively executed Christians when they refused to renounce Christ, referred to Jesus as the God of the Christians.
Modern historians prefer not to recognize that the dividing line of time itself is Christ's birth. They prefer that we use the initials CE and BCE the CE standing for common era. That seems kind of silly to me. There's nothing common about the God of the universe walking on this Earth. Nor is it common for any man to willingly lay down His life for a world full of broken, dirty, sinful people. And there is nothing common about a transformed life that comes when we open our hearts and our minds to the possibility that Jesus is who He claimed to be.
Peter is saying that once we engage our minds we engage our hope and we set that hope on the grace only Christ can bring. It's that grace that allows Him, in full glory, to look at not-so-glorious us and say that there's a place for us at the table He set. I don't have to think about that invitation for too terribly long. God says I'm His. And which of us doesn't want to hear Him say " That one right there- she's mine."
Love, as always, Renée
Now on to this week's lesson
Read 1 Peter 2:11-25
Memory verse 2:16 "Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves"
1. Have you ever spent any amount of time immersed in a foreign culture? Describe that experience.
2. How did that experience shape your understanding of the first couple of verses in this week's passage?
3. Which aspect of today's culture seems to wage war with you and how willingly do you engage in battle?
4. To whom does Peter tells us to submit and how well are you doing so?
5. What are the benefits of submission according to these verses?
6. Are there governmental authorities or regulations to which you have difficulty submitting?
7. How might people confuse God's freedom with a pass to do whatever they wish?
8. How is God calling you to be a beacon of light in your home, your community or your workplace?
For personal growth:
Verse 12 states " Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong they may see your good deeds and glorify God by them." How do the unbelievers in your life view you? Do your words match your walk or does your walk ruin your witness? Are you an example that you'd like them to follow? How often do your words and your actions invite unbelievers to engage in discussion about God? How prepared are you to answer their questions when they arise? How can you be holy without coming across as holier than thou?
For the good of the group:
Can you tell of a time when you received unjust punishment or suffering and what your response was to that situation?