Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1 Peter 2:18-25

Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Many view the world’s problem as that it just “isn’t Christian enough.” This view purports that if we could just change the governments of the world to be Christian governments, we could do away with things like poverty, and hunger, and disease.  These people see teachings of Scripture like Jesus’s “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5-7 as a prescription to all the problems in the world. Often mixing political rhetoric with biblical interpretation, they create an idea that government and country must be converted to Christianity. This is a noble desire, but it is not the call of Scripture. Peter and Paul don’t write to us to tell us to live righteous and holy as the government, but rather to live righteous and holy with the government. The idea that Jesus came and taught us to fix all of our social problems and injustices is an idea known as the “social gospel.” The flaw with the “social gospel” is that Jesus didn’t come to liberate us from our social problems, but rather from our eternal problem, namely sin and death. Unfortunately, this side-lining of evangelism to accomplish social programs was never the desire of Jesus. 1 Peter 2 says that Jesus died so that we would be “healed,” however, this does not mean that we will be “healed” from physical tribulation, rather, Peter writes in this same text that his “stripes” are our “example.” Jesus didn’t clear the path for liberation from bad days, He cleared the path for a much more permanent, liberating, and eternal “healing.” It’s not that we will have no more poverty, but that even in poverty we will be able to rejoice in the richness of God’s grace. So, contrary to our brothers who see Jesus as the answer to the social problems of the world, we instead rejoice that He came to be the answer for the far deeper, more firmly ensconced spiritual problem that all of mankind is in: sin. Furthermore, our hope isn’t set in a future one-world solution free from tribulation and tears, instead, our hope is set in an eternal God who sustains us today in the midst of tribulation (Romans 5:1-5) and will one day wipe away all of our tears (Revelation 21:4).
Food For Thought: What is the idea called that says Jesus came to fix all of our social problems and injustices? Although it is well-meaning, how can this be detrimental to the work of the true gospel that Jesus preached?