Words we don’t hear very often, again…

Hello Church family this is Pastor Phil,

Our reading today is actually a few verses earlier than the selected reading from I Peter 3:13-22, looking at vs. 8.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

I Peter 3:8

If you haven’t had a chance to read through I Peter in your personal devotions I would really encourage you to do so. I Peter is immensely practical in terms of how a Christian gets to live in this world and the encouragement of sympathy and tenderness are all the more surprising considering the source of this letter–Peter. 

When he met Jesus, Peter was a fisherman, tough and hot-tempered, skilled and hard-working, most likely a man of action, physical and bold, not afraid to speak his mind or to speak rashly. This is the same Peter who impulsively jumped out of the boat to get to Jesus on the rough waters and needed rescuing from Jesus. The same Peter who brashly cut off someone’s ear when Jesus was arrested, who boldly declared his unconditional allegiance to Jesus, and who also lied about knowing Jesus. Peter was outspoken, probably very loud, a natural leader who put it all out there without thinking much of the consequences or effects his words and actions would have on others. Those consequences led to a broken Peter, deep in regret and sorrow after denying Jesus; whom Jesus, after His resurrection, would come to by the water, take up the broken pieces of Peter’s life, and give Peter both forgiveness and purpose for the future.

This all-out-there Peter doesn’t seem like the same man who wrote these words: “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 

That Peter now valued sympathy, love, tenderness, and humility in his Christian life did not mean he was weak or a coward. This is also the same Peter who was arrested and shackled for his Christian faith after Jesus ascended to heaven. The same Peter who boldly helped lead the church in Jerusalem through all of the tumultuous early years of what it meant to be Christian. The same Peter, who when faced with martyrdom on the cross like Jesus, did not consider himself worthy enough to die in the same way as His savior and asked to have his cross turned upside-down when he was crucified. 

Peter was not a coward, but he wasn’t the same brash, out-there man either. No, because of Jesus he exchanged one way of living for another, he exchanged the ways of the world for the ways of Jesus.  

I want you to consider how the ways of the world ask–no demand of you–to act and live. In this world right now, there doesn’t seem to be any place for humility or gentleness. No, what seems to be valued more is loudness and stubbornness, a state of being determined to be right no matter what and to make sure you’re the loudest and most out there. 

I hear a lot of “me” and not a lot of “we”. I hear “you,” but in the “it’s all your fault” kind of “you.” 

I hear a lot of “me” and not a lot of “we.”

Then when this coronavirus struck and I heard things like, “you’re not alone” and, “we’re all in this together.” But now that it seems like things are calming down and we’re at least going to get back to a version normalcy for us, I’m not hearing the “we’re all in this together,” as much and I’m hearing more of “it’s your fault” and “what’s wrong with you?” and, “I’m right,” “no, I’m right!” 

The words of the brash and out-there Peter who became tender and humble Peter, speak truth today as much as they did all of those years ago.

It is a call for you and me, for the Christian to be led by the Holy Spirit in how we are going to live and act right now, no matter how the world is choosing to live and act, right now. 

Because that’s how it goes–sometimes the world will, at least a little bit and for a time, line up with some of the values of the Christian life and other times, if not most of the time, will not line up. But the ways of the world are not our personal barometer on how to live. Jesus is our personal barometer; and the ways he calls us to live and how we see those ways lived out in our brothers and sisters in Christ, like Peter, inform us on how to live.

But the ways of the world are not our personal barometer on how to live.

So, take these words to heart from our brother Pastor Peter: Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 

What do these words mean for you and for your life? 

What does it look like to have sympathy instead of apathy or straight out hostility? 

Or to choose to regard yourself with a humble mind instead of assuming you know it all or are absolutely correct.

How are you called right now to be tender on Facebook? To show brotherly (and sisterly) love in your community and workplace? To maintain the fellowship of faith in your church family that may not always agree, but is always part of the same family and same team? Be of one heart and one mind, which is the heart and mind of Jesus. 

As we continue to explore this new normal together, take the words and life, fall and redemption, of our brother Pastor Peter to heart in how Jesus is calling you to live and act right now. 

Published by philipmcclelland.org

​I am a recovering burned out workaholic​ who forgot I couldn't change the world. From the ashes of that not only have I found a peace from God that I never knew but a focus on what matters, God, family and loving my neighbor as God has loved me. My burning out experiences really drive my writing and how much I want to share all of the good God has worked through the hurt I've experienced. Currently I serve a great little parish in Northern Ohio with my wonderful family and our furry farm of five dogs, four cats and the oddball handful of fish. You can find me at www.philipmcclelland.org.

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