Surviving in a Hostile Environment: 2017 Study of 1 Peter #4
This is an exposition of 1 Peter 1:22-2:3. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, April 9, 2017.
There is really no doubt we are living in a “post-Christian” world. A world that has moved beyond biblical morals and ethics. Just look at television programming. Look at the worldview espoused night after night on both cable and network television. The Christian worldview, long the dominant worldview in American history and culture, is now shoved aside. And it is not that it has been ignored it is openly attacked! It is attacked as narrow-minded, bigoted, ignorant and intolerant. Webster defines “hostile” as “of or relating to the enemy. A relationship marked by antagonism.” We are living in a hostile environment. Our way of life is under attack. We are labeled as extremist or alarmist. But when you examine what is happening today maybe the sky really is falling!
Let me just refer to two things that are disturbing. One is the increasing number of couples who do not want children. The disturbing thing about that is the attitude of some of the people interviewed who did not want children. Most did not want children because they would not fit into their lifestyle. They might have to go without the new house and car if they had some kid to take care of. Another wanted to know what kind of “return they would get on their investment if they had children!” The other has to do with what is happening in terms of marriage and the family. There are those who seek to redefine both marriage and family. A year ago the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage in all 50 states. And now we are arguing we can’t stop there. The argument goes something like this, “Why can’t any number of people enter into any kind of ‘loving relationship’ and be acknowledged as a family unit? After all the real issue is that there is a loving relationship. Whether that is between a man and a woman or two men or two women or an adult and a child or any combination of the above.” Now add to this perversion the intolerance for evangelism and preaching the Gospel and we are not far removed from dark, difficult, and painful days as the church. Persecution cannot be far behind.
When we turn to the church things are not that much better. Church fights, church splits and forced terminations are commonplace. When I look at the church today I am reminded of an incident from the War of 1812. The troops, under the command of Andrew Jackson, found conditions unbearable. Morale was at an all time low and the result was constant arguing, bickering and fighting. Old Hickory called his troops together and said, “Gentlemen, let’s remember one thing. The enemy is over there!”
From time to time we, in the church, need to be reminded of the same truth. One of the earliest sources, outside of the Scripture, describing the church is from a man named Aristides who was sent by Emperor Hadrian to study this new sect called “Christians.” In his report to the Emperor, Aristides marveled at these early believers and their love for one another. Jesus had said this would be one of the ways the world would know we are His disciples, that we would love one another. Yet today there seems to be a lack of love among the brothers. Would those outside of this fellowship be overwhelmed by the depth of love they see reflected in us? Would they be amazed at the unity and harmony within our church? That is a question worth considering.
The fact is we need each other. We need each other especially in a hostile environment. In the face of hostility we need the support and encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Peter was writing to believers who were scattered due to persecution. They had been driven from their homes. Many had fled for their lives. They needed to know they were not alone. Our text this evening is found in chapter one of 1 Peter.
Text: 1 Peter 1:22-2:3
Peter was writing to encourage struggling, first-century believers, but his words speak just as eloquently to us in the 21st century.
Thesis: Survival in a hostile world demands that believers walk in genuine unity.
Unity is at the heart of what Jesus taught us.
We also discover that unity and love go hand in hand.
Look at what Jesus taught in John 13:13-15: You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
No doubt any of them would have been happy to wash Jesus’ feet.
Jesus said, “Wash each other’s feet.”
No one was too interested in that!
Thus Jesus added a new commandment 13:34-35 – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
It is easy to love Christ – not so easy to love one another!
Now consider John 17:20-23 – “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
Unity is pretty important within the body of Christ.
By the way, the issue is unity not uniformity.
We are in this together. We are the body of Christ. We need each other. In light of that I want us to note two key principles of biblical unity.
There are any number of movements today calling for unity among believers. The problem is they destroy the very basis for unity in their striving to achieve unity! Let’s look at the biblical model.
- Biblical unity flourishes in an atmosphere of genuine love. (1:22-23)
- Biblical unity is founded on common ground. (1 Peter 1:23-2:3)
Survival in a hostile world demands that we walk in genuine unity.
Such a unity flourishes in an atmosphere of genuine love.
Such a unity is founded on common ground.