Last week we looked at how we live as the gathered people of God. God has called us as his own through Christ and has set us apart as a people who are devoted to one another in love and service (1 Peter 2:4-10). Peter shifts his attention to then talk about how we live as “scattered people”. His main questions is “How do followers of Jesus live out faithfulness to him among people who do not know Jesus and even in hostile and tense places?”
The main idea: Peter pushes us to see that our public faith is a valuable witness to the world of God’s goodness and his character and that some people will see our transformed hearts and lives and be compelled to faith through it. Many of us feel the urge to hide our faith and fit into the world that is around us, yet what if our strategic advantage comes when we live out the discomfort of living out our public faith for a watching world to see?
Read through 1 Peter 2:11-17 a few times. List out 7-10 observations you see.
- What does Peter call the group of Christians he is writing to? See 1 Peter 2:11 where Peter combines two different images to speak to our identity. (see this short video from the Bible Project about the theme of being an exile).
- To be an exile is to feel like a foreigner, someone without power and like you’re not part of the culture. In what ways have you felt like an stranger in this world because of your faith in Jesus.
- What does Peter encourage us to do in response to being exiles in this world? Look at verse 11-12 and 15. How does this passage compare to Matthew 5:13-16? (hint: notice he does not call us to hide or to cave-in and become like the culture we’re in).
- If you have a study bible, what does the editor say about “the day of visitation” in verse 12? What seems to be the relationship between our good works and what seems to happen on “the day of visitation”?
- Peter shifts his focus to giving us three specific places where our public faith can be greatly used by God to show his character and faithfulness to the watching world. Look at 1 Peter 2:13, 18 and 3:1 and notice they all use the word “Submit” This is a clue to his structure. What are the three areas of our lives Peter is telling us to step into boldly to live our out public faith?
- Read 1 Peter 2:13-17, which focuses on how exiles should live as citizens in this world. What motivation does Peter appeal to for our submission? Who is behind every human government?
- What is the role of government according to 1 Peter 2:14? (You can compare this passage to Romans 13:1-7 for a fuller picture of the role of human government)
- Peter ends with 4 imperatives (commands) in verse 17. To honor means to respect and give dignity. We live in a day and age where people are quick to criticize and dishonor one another. What are some ways you can put the command to honor everyone into practice this week? Think about people you may disagree with politically or times when our government does something you don’t like. How does the way you honor or dishonor others and governing authorities either harm or help your witness to the world?