Are You an Alien? 1 Peter 2:11
I have to admit, I like Sci-fi programs. I liked those old space programs like Star Trek, Star gate, the movie ET, Lost in Space, even the old program, My Favorite Martian. And even though I’m not so sure there are extra-terrestrial beings out there, I can’t help but believe how important first contact would be with alien beings, not to mention how we may interact over a period of time . If there are others who live out there, I wonder how they would perceive us as species and what we would think about them and their customs and practices.
But what about how we interact with other cultures on our own planet; with other nations? I could never picture myself being a foreign exchange student when I was younger. The mere though if it scared me to death. Why, because even then I realized it came with such a huge responsibility.
If I were to go to another country and act like a jerk, those people who may not know any other Americans may think we are all alike. In this sense I believe every American who travels abroad whether they are a foreign exchange student, a businessman, or even a tourist are ambassadors of our country to some degree.
So far in our study of 1 Peter we have seen a number of labels that Peter has placed upon us as Christians. So far he said that: – “God’s elect”. He also said
- We are like living stoned, and collectively we are being built up into a Spiritual Temple.
- He also told us that we are a holy priesthood with the privilege of being able to offer up spiritual sacrifices to glorify our Lord.
– He even said that we are a chosen people, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.
And here now in 1 Peter 2:11, Peter calls us aliens, foreigners, or strangers depending on what translation you are reading. As Peter has already indicated in this letter, this world is not our home, but while we live and take temporary residence here we are God’s representatives, His ambassadors and so in this lesson we are going to look the suggestions Peter gives us on how to conduct our self as such.
#1. To begin with Peter starts off by saying in 2:11
“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” NAS
The NLT put it this way,
“Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.”
If we go to another county and carry on like a self indulgent ignoramus who can’t control themselves, what kind of image will those people have in their minds when they think of Americans. Likewise Christians should live as wholesome as possible. If a person calls themselves a Christian but carries on like a drunk, a drug addict, a sexual pervert, a glutton, or can’t control them self in some other ways, they only make a mockery of the name ‘Christian,’ and what it should represent. People should know that we are Christians by the way we act, without even saying that we are Christians. This leads to Peter’s next suggestion.
#2 Next he says,
“Conduct yourself with honor”
The NLT says it this way,
“Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors.” The NAS says, “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles,”
Acting like everyone else just isn’t good enough. He indicates that we should behave in an excellent manner. The NKJV says that we should live lives which are honorable. This suggests that people take note of your behavior in a positive way. We are talking about going the second mile here when it comes to our conduct.
Why live like this? Because in the rest of this verse Peter said that even if…
“they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your good deeds and glorify God”
People aren’t as blind and ignorant as we sometimes think. If you’ve made a claim of being a Christian, people are watching you whether they themselves believe in Christ or not. And many times the only time we hear from them is when they throw up our own hypocrisy in our face. ‘And you said you are a Christian; huh. I can’t believe you did that or said that!’
#3. Peters next suggestion is big one and it effects almost every part of our life as we interact with others; and that is to have a submissive spirit.
He starts out in verse 13 by saying,
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men.”
I don’t believe that he is saying we should be a coward, wimpy, or weak in any way. I believe it is the same thing that Jesus taught on the Sermon on the Mt. where He talked about being poor in spirit (or humble) and being meek. Being meek is not about being weak, but rather it is power under control. Having a submissive nature is where a person makes a choice to be humble and gentle just like Jesus did when He chose not to exercise all His power. Yes whether we recognize it or not we hold a special position in this world as God’s children, and co-heirs with Christ, but we are to submit.
Peter then expands on this thought in the following verses.
a. First of he said to every human authority. He writes,
“13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.”
It is God’s will that we obey individuals with authority over our land; at least as long as what they command isn’t in conflict with what God Himself has commanded or ordained. You may not like Obama, income tax or the 65 mph speed limit, but God expects us as faithful Christians to obey the governing individuals and laws of the land better than any other citizen.
b. Next Peter goes on to tell slaves to obey their masters. The NLT puts it this way,
“18 You who are slaves must accept the authority of your masters with all respect.Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. 19 For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment.”
Often preachers apply this to our work place; that we should submit to our employer and be good workers even if he is not a good boss. I believe that’s a fair teaching, because the issue at hand is not so much who we are working for but rather it’s about our willingness to submit and do a good job. We Christ’s ambassadors and represent Him. If you are a Christian and you are horrible employee it brings no glory to Jesus, nor the church.
c. Peter then moves from those governing us, to those we work for, to the home. In chapter 3, Peter writes,
“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
Starting in vs. 7 Peter also writes,
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”
A lot of times you hear individuals use this text to show that wives should have a submissive spirit, and this text does indicate that . But in vs. 7, it also shows that
“in the same way”, husbands should also have a submissive spirit.
And if we don’t, and if we think more of ourselves than we should and try dominate and push other family members around, Peters lets us know that such behavior will even hinder our prayers.
Never underestimate the value and power of a humble, gentle spirit.
Peter tells wives that their family members including their husbands can be won over to Christ without even a word but rather by their behavior. I also believe this can happen in the work place and many other situations as well.
At the very least your behavior should not take away from your Christian testimony.
We are Christ’s ambassadors and we are told how we are to live as aliens, and His ambassadors. Many times we wonder why we have not been more effective as we try to witness to others. Maybe the people we are trying to witness to hear our ‘Christian’ words but then we see how we act, and how we talk about others, and hear how we complain and belly ache all the time, or see how we live contrary what they think God would expect us as Christians and just shake their heads and walk away..
Peters concluding comment in the subject in 3:8:
“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”
Don’t ever forget who you are and who you represent in this world.
I can’t help but admire the woman we know as Mother Teresa. If any woman lived a humble, submissive, loving life it was her, especially as she served the dying in India. I would like to close by sharing a few quote she made.
- “If you are discouraged it is a sign of pride, because it shows you trust in your own powers.
- “One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.” – “I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?”
- “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
- “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566