1 Peter – 1 Peter 5:5-7 – 16 of 18
God has designed the church to be both a place of refuge and a place of equipping. God equips us to share our faith and live a distinct Christian lifestyle, while representing Him in how we love people. However, not everyone will like what they see, because our Christian world view and the values that flow from it are diametrically opposed to the prevailing secular world view, which brings God’s people into conflict with the world. In fact, the more your values mirror Biblical values the greater cultural pushback you will receive.
However, God calls us to influence a world that is not terribly fond of Christ-following Christians because so much of what we believe challenges its beliefs. In order to best reach the world, the church must be united on two fronts: first, in its mission to make disciples throughout the world, of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20); and second, in its commitment to live in harmony with one another (1 Peter 3:8-9). The church should be characterized by its unity because we share a common vision, purpose and value system. The point I made last week is that the church will not flourish if its leaders don’t shepherd their flock, but neither will the church flourish if the flock does not follow its shepherd. This latter point is the one we are focusing on today.
Earlier in his letter, Peter encouraged believers to be subject to the governing authorities (1 Peter 2:13-17); he told slaves to submit to their masters (1 Peter 2:18-25); and he told wives to submit to their husbands (1 Peter 3:1-7). In our passage today, he commands younger members of the church to submit to their pastors. I think Peter singled out younger people here because he knew that they were most likely to be independently minded and push back against church leaders. Although the younger generation tends to think they know more than their elders, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have something to contribute. Church leaders would be foolish to not listen to their ideas and concerns—they are the future of the church, and young people should be given responsibility in the church (commensurate to their experience and spiritual maturity).
Humble leaders listen to those who are seeking to lead. We all need to be humble enough to know that we don’t know everything. We need to be humble enough to ask for help. We need to be humble enough to submit to those whom God has placed in authority over us. So, in verse 5, Peter tells the younger members of the church to submit to their elders. This simply implies a general willingness to support the elder’s decisions, but he quickly follows that by saying that all of us should “clothe ourselves with humility.” It is this kind of humility that fosters trust and cooperation in the church. Everyone has a role to play.
When everyone seeks to use their gifts and talents for God’s glory, we advance the kingdom. But humility is the key to making all of that work. Humility allows us to work together in unity. It allows us to extend grace and forgiveness to one another. Humility is the key to experiencing Biblical Community. Peter juxtaposes this idea of humility with the consequence of pride (1 Peter 5:5). Pride wants to exalt itself to godlike status. It wants to answer to no one but itself. But God hates pride, and here Peter tells us that God actively opposes proud people. The key to defeating pride in your life is to clothe yourself with humility, and humility is simply thinking of yourself less and submitting to the Lord. Submission is really an act of faith. By submitting to God, we are trusting Him to provide for us and bring about His divine purposes for our lives.
When all shepherds and sheep humble ourselves before God and one another, the church is a beautiful representation of the kingdom. It is both a loving, supporting spiritual family and a strategic outpost for outreach and ministry in the world.
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
In everything you do, humble yourself before God and each other.
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large, that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)