English Remake of Pastor Hayashi's 1 Peter 3:8-17
Fellowship that is Hardship or Suffering Successfully
Last week we were privileged to witness the confession of faith and baptismof two young people: a sister from Saruhashi church and a brother from Ome church. Baptisms are a special event in the life of the believer and for the whole church. Heaven rejoices, and so do we similar to the rejoicing in the birth of a child.
"Behold how good and pleasant it is for brothers [and sisters] to dwell together in unity! ... For there the LORD commanded the blessing -- life
forever." Ps 133. The heart resonates with rejoicing when we sympathize with each other and demonstrate brotherly love.
There has been great news from a meeting of the churches in the Ome/Okutama area. The churches are gathering together in unity to host the citywide Christmas celebration/outreach. In addition, near to our church is another called the United Church of Christ in Japan. The parish it belongs to was divided differently this year. They needed help with their computer for
keeping their address books. Even though our Japan Evangelical Christian Association is distinct, the 30 minutes of help I gave them benefited us as it did them. "Behold how good and how pleasant!"
In the previous few weeks, we have heard Peter tell us to submit to the authorities God put over us even though we may suffer. We may be suffering now, daily. We studied why to submit even when it hurts, and how to heal hurting marriages.
Our passage today gives us a positive answer to suffering. We can give this answer. It is full of promise and blessing.
"To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing." vv 8,9
Our suffering may be under authority, within marriage, or CAUSED BY OTHER BELIEVERS. Our FELLOWSHIP may be HARDSHIP. This is the important point of verse 9. Our very brother or sister may be the source of affliction, evil, or insult we are suffering. The words 'evil' and 'insult' connote suffering that can hardly be endured, suffering that brings severe distress and difficulty. Don't be surprised.
What are we to do? Give a blessing instead, for we were called to receive a blessing.
In order to understand how Peter can make this promise of blessing, it helps to read all of Psalm 34. Peter and his readers understood how this psalm speaks to us and speaks for us. Peter extracted just a few of the verses.
"For, 'The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous, and his ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.'" vv 10-12 (quoting Ps 34:12-16)
Peter wrote very frankly about the situation then and today. He knew that Christians were facing difficulties, not only from Nero and slave masters and bosses. Christians were also suffering in marriage and at the hands of believers.
Do we despair, give up hope? No! Peter wrote for us to zealously strive to do what is good.
"Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed." Vv 13,14a
Without fear, we are to zealously strive to do what is good. The outcome may be further suffering and insult instead of human praise or honor, but Peter reminds us "even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed." Then Peter quoted from Is 8:12,13, which tells us who not to fear, Who to fear, and Who is our refuge.
"'And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled,' but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;" vv 14b,15 (quoting Is 8:12,13)
Peter drew from Is 8 that we are not to fear or be disturbed. Rather we are to rest in our hearts that Christ is Lord over us and over those afflicting us. That gives us tremendous hope to endure the suffering.
Onlookers will not be able to explain our hope. Our hope may cause others to ask, so we are to be ready to give an answer careful that our tone is gentle and reverent.
In order to be ready to give an answer, we need to rest/worship in our hearts that Jesus is Lord. Our need surpasses any command God might give, it is like our need for food, water, air. Unlike our physical needs which we satisfy without reminder, Peter reminds us of our need and hope which captures the people's attention.
If we attack or insult, we act like everyone expects, without hope.
This brings us back to vs 9 "not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing."
Continue loving. Continue praying. Continue doing good.
Upon meeting for the first time, the traditional Japanese greetings announce where you belong. The exchanging of business cards still do this, announcing your company, your work, your rank. In the past you would look for whether he is an ally, friend, or enemy, and decide whether you to attack or share supper. Now the greeting determines who bows more deeply and speaks more politely. It is a sorting out, and always exciting.
However, for the Christian our attitude is to be the same toward the other person, whether brother or sister, ally or enemy, great or insignificant. Regardless of who they are, they are made in God's image and valuable and we are to bless them. Regardless of who they are, they have desperately wicked hearts and are capable of doing us terrible evil, but we are to
return a blessing.
The final verses today bring us back to Christ. Jesus Christ is the example of how we are to live, and the source of power for our own right living. He is in believers to do it.
"and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;" vv16,17
Pastor Hayashi then commented on the recent exhibition of the missionary Xavier who introduced catholic Christianity to southern Japan. The exhibition sketches the history of influence, opposition, and persecution.
During the time of persecution, believers were forced to recant, spit and trod on an image of Jesus or else be tortured and killed. The witness of those who were persecuted for their faith still has repercussions today.
It is said that in introducing Japanese to Jesus Christ it is important to begin with explaining that God created the world and people. The world was perfect but we humans fell. It surprises some people that something God made would become evil. Some people think that this proves God doesn't exist, but if you think about it honestly, we would not know that evil was evil and good was good unless God existed. If people set the standard instead of God, there would be no such thing as evil.
But it is obvious that evil exists. Everyone recognizes it. The president has denounced Yugoslavia's Milosovic as evil as Hitler (even though Clinton got away with lying, adultery, treason, and murder using the excuse that everyone is doing it). We believers know our sin, our weakness and repent. We know that Christ had to die for us, and that He rose again to live His
life through us.( Especially, Henk added the comment)
It is our response to evil and insult that captures the attention of people and gives us opportunities to speak of our hope boldly and without fear.
"Worship Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope that is in you."
Christ is master. He is our master and Lord. And so obeying Him, we do not return "evil for evil or insult for insult, but give a blessing instead." This is our attitude to believers who hurt us as well as unbelievers. We are the proof that Jesus Christ is Lord. We are living proof to people who are lost and hopeless without Him.
(translated and arranged by Henk Roy)
English Remake of Pastor Hayashi's message 1 Peter 2:18-25
Why submit when it hurts?
Recently pastor Hayashi was reflecting on the faces of the disciples in Leonardo Da Vinci's 'Last Supper'. Recall that at the last supper, Peter declared that he stick with Jesus although others fall away. Jesus said Peter would deny him three times. The faces in the painting capture each disciple's heart.
Peter wrote to believers during Nero's reign, at a time when Christians were severely persecuted. He wrote for us to live such good lives that although others accuse us of doing wrong, they will see our good deeds and give God glory when Christ returns, 2:12. As part of this, we are to submit to every authority for the Lord's sake.
"Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. " vv 18-20
In today's passage Peter told slaves to submit to their masters, whether they are good or harsh. At that time, there were perhaps 60 million slaves and 54 million Romans. None of us here today are 'slaves', so how does this apply to us? If you work, you have a boss who may be good or harsh. Wives, your husband is your authority (1Peter 3). For children who are still at home, it is your parents. Students, your teachers are your authority. Men, since you answer to Christ, be a good husband and father (1Pet 3and5).
Each one of us is under some authority, and suffer. Sometimes we suffer for what we did wrong. There is a lesson for us but no credit. Sometimes we suffer even though we did right, so we suffer unjustly. Then what do we do?
"For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls." vv 21-25
Then what do we do?
We follow Christ's example. Christ never sinned, so all his suffering was unjust. Jesus was Lord of the universe, King of creation, but He submitted to the human authorities of the time. He entrusted Himself to God who would judge Him justly--it was the only way to save us. Jesus died unjustly so that we could begin to live rightly. Peter knew this in his gut since Jesus had forgiven Peter's betrayal and given him a new life to glorify Him.
David gave us another example. David was already anointed to be the next king. But while Saul was still king, David served Saul. Several times Saul tried to kill David and falsely accused him. When running for his life, David had several opportunities to kill Saul. Then David would immediately become king. But he did not kill Saul even when urged, because God had made Saul king. Instead David repeatedly proved his loyalty to his king, Saul. Considering David, we can understand we must submit even in extreme cases, and not just when it is easy. Does your boss, husband, or parent know that you loyally submit to them, because you submit to God?
Like sheep, we wandered away from our authorities. Now we submit, though we may suffer under our authorities. We do this because we have entrusted our life, our rights, our reputation to God. He is the ultimate authority and guards our souls.
English Remake of Pastor Hayashi's message
1 Peter 3:1-7: Healing Hurting Marriages
Pastor Hayashi began with the story of a marriage in severe pain--and yet one that gave glory to Jesus. The story from Fukuoka began with 35 year old woman entering a hospital in a wheelchair. She was married to a man whom she had met doing Kendo at school. She was bright and cheerful. During hard times, the husband had sacrificed taking a job in a police box and sometimes she was there with him through the night. They had three daughters. Then tragedy hit, the mother contracted uterine cancer. Though it was treated, other parts of her body began to fail. She became weaker and in great pain. They prayed for healing. Though she died and the remaining four sorrowed, she left them with great hope. The witness of the Lord reached deeply to nurses and others in the hospital.
Marriage is good, and many here desire it. God designed marriage to bless the wife and the husband. God designed marriage to last 'until death do us part'. Your marriage is important to God. God understands marriage best.
God provides special support for the relationship between husband and wife. God's Word contains clear instruction on how to have a blessed marriage, the most famous is Ephesians 5. By His Spirit in you, you men can love your wives like Christ loved the church, and you women can respect your husbands. God wants to bless your spouse through you.
However, marriage is not always easy. There are many tears and suffering. Sometimes 'until death do us part' comes too early. Sometimes our spouse is the reason we suffer.
Peter's words are written to those whose marriages are not perfect. Peter wrote in order to heal hurting marriages. What can you do? What can you do when your spouse is the problem? when he/she is not listening to the Lord?
Peter's first words are to wives. Wives have probably suffered more in marriage throughout history.
Peter starts out, 'In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands'. In the same way as what?
The words 'in the same way' connect us to the previous verses, where we studied 'Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps' and 'Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.'
Let's look at the whole sentence. 'In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.' vv1-2
A wife may be suffering because her husband is be disobeying the Lord.
Peter did not indicate whether the husband is a believer or not: his words apply in either case. Christian husbands often disobey the Lord; you wives know that. Unbelieving husbands don't obey the Lord; marriages is which the husband is an unbeliever occurred either because the wife became a believer after marriage or because she disobeyed the Lord and married an unbeliever. This happens here in Japan and in the US, and probably happened in Rome.
Women were probably a large part of Peter's audience; in Ome church 2/3 are women.
What is a wife to do? Quietly submit to her husband. This is a command with a promise. By submitting quietly it is possible to win the husband so that he submits to/obeys the Lord. You are unlikely to win him if you nag, control, or rebel. That drives a man to his own devices (his way=flesh),
rather than to God's spirit.
Peter makes this promise because a submissive wife is most attractive the husband. The husband is confounded when his wife is truly Christlike. The husband is challenged if his wife trusts the Lord to lead him, because then he needs to trust the Lord to do what is right. The promise is stronger if the husband is a believer because the wife can trust God's spirit to convict him. However the promise is not a guarantee because men can be a hard nut to crack, and it might take time.
Women, do you want to be irresistibly beautiful? God find this attractive (men do too):
'Your adornment must not be merely external -- braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.' vv3-6
Sarah had good reason not to submit to Abraham. Sometimes Abraham had little faith and put Sarah in danger. Two times Abraham claimed that Sarah was his sister. Both times Sarah entered a harem. Another time Abraham listened to her and caused Sarah much distress because of Hagar and Ishmael.
Sarah's faith grew and she did not fear. She trusted the Lord and was not frightened by any fear. So she submitted to Abraham, and called him lord. You women can become like Sarah 'Sarah's children' and not fear. Many of you already trust the Lord firmly, but it can be scary when your husband is forceful and demanding, or indecisive and cowardly, or foolish. Though fears will attack you, you can choose to not be frightened (a choice of the will). Your husband does need to hear your thoughts, advice, and wisdom from God's Word since you are his helper. So speak to him. Then after you have spoken, submit to your husbands because you trust the Lord.
Peter also wrote to husbands, who also may suffer in marriage. 'You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.' vs7
This command probably startled Roman believers. Pastor Hayashi says that most Roman men treated their wives like slaves. But Jewish believers knew that God made both men and women in God's image.
Husbands are commanded to understand and honor their wives. Take time to understand your wife, listen to her concerns and fears, tell her your weaknesses, treat her special. Do this even if she doesn't submit to you.
Your wife is valuable. She is given a place equal with you as God's heir. You must realize that. This 'same way' the husbands submit to the Lord.
Pastor Hayashi found an estimate of the hidden value of a wife: "Michael Minton estimated the monetary value of a wife's services in the home. First he listed the various functions she performs: chauffeur, gardener, family counselor, maintenance worker, cleaning woman, housekeeper, cook, errand runner, bookkeeper/budget manager, interior decorator, caterer, dietitian, secretary, public relations person, hostess. Using this impressive list of household duties, Minton figured the dollar value of a housewife's work in the 1981 labor market. He came up with the amount of $785.07 a week. That's $40,823.64 a year!"
THIS MEANS THAT A WIFE WAS FAR MORE VALUABLE THAN A MAN'S OWN WORK!!! (by comparing the average salary 20 years ago.)
Men, your wife is your ally; she is the helper that God gave you. The word 'helper' in the Bible most often refers to God. Your wife is not less than you. As your helper, your wife is God's agent in your life.
This command contains an impressive warning for husbands. If you don't understand and honor your wives, your prayers may be hindered. Peter is not saying that a noisy wife is the obstacle to prayer. If a husband does not honor his wife, love her and try to understand her, then he is not living by faith. Without faith, his prayers are obviously hindered. So husbands, submit to the Lord and honor your wife.
Peter wrote to those who marriages are hurting. But you don't have to wait until your marriage is hurting. You can do this now and make your marriage even better. Men, your wife will find you attractive if you honor her and try to understand her. Women, your husband will find you irresistibly attractive if you submit.
In conclusion, the marriage between man and woman is important to God. Trust your marriage to God and trust His Word about marriage. God knows best about marriage. He will support you. Listening to God's Word and obeying brings blessing. Your marriage can glorify God 'until death do you part.'