1. Where have you lived and experienced the most drastic culture shock?
2. What are some of the ways you experienced culture shock?
3. How did it make you feel?
For some of us, the culture shock we experience makes us want to withdraw and have as little contact as possible with the natives in the place where we live. But as Christians living in a world where the culture is as opposite to our Christian culture as it could be, we are called to intermingle with the people but remain true to our holy calling. We are to be such exemplary members of our communities that we have a positive influence for Christ on those around us. However, we must remember that obeying God’s Word always takes precedent over human laws when the two collide, even though our general stance is to submit.
Last week we studied what the relationship between believers should be. Today we study how the Christian should live in a world where the culture is very different from Christ’s teachings.
In Culture! Read 1 Peter 2:11-12
1. How did Peter describe his readers in verse 11? (Strangers and temporary residents)
2. What do these terms imply to you? (Once we become followers of Christ, He transforms us in a way that makes us strangers to the world and aliens among people who think differently than we do. Our citizenship has changed!)
Christians are in the world but not of the world, and their values come from the Lord rather than the society in which they live.
3. Why would succumbing to fleshly desires in all their forms be such a threat to a believer? (We have a delicate line to walk. Becoming too much like the world threatens one’s credibility as a Christian. Christianity is a markedly different lifestyle, one with high moral standards and saturated by a love that draws unbelievers to Christ, like moths to a flame.)
4. How did Peter tell his readers to conduct themselves and why?
Much like some places in our world today, people in Peter’s day viewed Christians with disdain and suspicion. The church was under close scrutiny and criticism. Peter reminded his readers that they were to live above reproach, carrying positive reputations because they were being watched!
5. Why is it important for Christians to be good citizens as much as possible without violating the ways of God?
6. How have you seen a Christian impact a community simply by the way he or she lived?
7. What distinguishes a Christian’s good works from others? (Christians who back up their good works with good words glorify God in truth and in deed. Letting others know why we work for the good of others as servants of God glorifies God.)
Toward Officials and Leaders! Read 1 Peter 2:13-17
1. What various officials did Peter mention in this passage? (“every human authority;” “the Emperor;” “governors;” “honor everyone;”)
In Romans 13:1-7, Paul tells us in so many words that no authority exists unless God allowed it to exist. So when we rebel against those in authority we are rebelling against God. In Acts 5:29 Peter and the apostles are called before the Sanhedrin and asked why they had disobeyed what they were told to do. Peter’s response was “We must obey God rather than men.” And so must we!
How does this passage help us understand how to live as a Christian in relationship to the authority of the government? Honoring earthly authorities signals a strong and comprehensive set of values and integrity. Only when laws are in direct conflict with God’s authority are we permitted to engage in civil disobedience. (Example of Hobby Lobby.)
2. Why doesn’t submission to government silence all persecution?
3. Look at verse 16. How have people used their freedom for evil? (A person who claims to be a Christian and says “I can do anything I please because God has already forgiven me.” Grossly misunderstands Scripture. I suspect that a person who justifies sin in that way has never been transformed in the first place and is still in a lost condition!)
4. Why is it important for Christians to avoid this temptation?
Notice how Peter summed up these verses with four commands in verse 17: “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor.” It seems so simple!
Through Your Work! Read 1 Peter 2:18-20
Today’s work situations are not precisely parallel to first-century slaves, nor was first-century slavery parallel to modern slavery. Showing respect for others today does not mean we must accept their abuse.
1. How does a person’s willingness to accept authority over them in the workplace, school, or military affect those around them? (Submission has a trickle-down effect. One person who models a servant’s heart influences another to do the same. Unfortunately, rebellion has an incendiary effect, too. We influence others to become rule-breakers when they see us, especially as Christians, do it.)
2. Why would Peter ask Christians to respond respectfully not only to good masters but dishonorable ones? (There may be rare times when rebellion is required, but Christ has identified love as His method of transforming the world. When someone suffers unjustly under the authority of others but accepts it meekly, God promises to show them favor.)
Summarize and Challenge!
Peter instructed those he was writing to as followers:
· In general, live with integrity and good works in your larger society, remembering you are temporary residents.
· In particular, submit to governmental authorities because this is one of the ways you silence those who oppose you.
· Furthermore, submit to those in authority over you in your work, even if they are unfair, because this pleases God.
· And in verses 21-25 Peter reminds us that Christ suffered unjustly in His crucifixion, not only to heal you spiritually, but also to be your example in suffering.
Read 1 Peter 2:21
Peter reminds us that we are called to bring favor to God and that we “should follow in His (Jesus’) steps.”
How can we become better servants to our earthly authorities than to walk in His steps?
He has set the example for us! We have but to follow!