Easter 2018

 

 

 

 

 

OUR MINISTER IS PREACHING HIS WAY THROUGH THE FIRST LETTER OF PETER. 

Not every Sunday but he’s gradually making his way through.  His messages are very practical and here is one of them.  It’s all about marriage.  We hope you enjoy reading it.  And perhaps that you will come along and hear some more………….

 

 

SUBJECT   God’s scattered people (14) Marriage                                                                                        

BIBLE BASE  I Peter chapter 3 verses 1 to 12..6-7

 

First, THE BIBLE PASSAGE   I Peter 13.1-12.  I would like you to listen/read most attentively and tell me what was read which surprised you or maybe offended you.  I shall ask the ladies first, then the men.  May be about culture or unacceptable ideas. Note: there are six verses for the wives and only one verse for the husbands.  I suggest that at the time of writing it would be the men who would be upset because they would were expected to give up their cultural right to dominate their wives.  This was my experience when I lectured on this passage at a Bible College for trainees in a very rural area of India (the college minibus was a bullock cart). After a day or two I asked the principal of the college how my teaching was being received.  He replied that it was the men who were not impressed but “the ladies are very happy because you have raised them so high.”  It would have been similar when Peter’s letter was read and discussed.  The Christian faith raises women high. 

 

WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND PETER’S WORDS WERE GIVEN IN A CULTURAL CONTEXT in which the place of women was exceptionally low.  This was the Roman empire and it may surprise you to hear that in Roman law the woman never lost her child-status.  First she was subject to her father, who had absolute power over her, and when she got married that authority was passed over to her husband. Whether father or husband, he could command her, control her, and if he wished make her life a misery.  It was a man’s world.  She had no free decisions, all her life was controlled.  She had to get her husband’s permission for things.

Another thing we have to notice is that PETER IS HERE TAKING THE MOST DIFFICULT SITUATION for the wife. He did not take the easiest situation but the hardest. He is writing to Christians where the Christian wife is married to a non-Christian husband.  Submission was the order of the day.  Imagine how it might be.  The Christian wife might like to visit other Christian families when the Lord’s Supper was being held.  Or she might want to visit someone ill.  The husband has no understanding of the Lord’s Supper; he has no sympathy for the ill or why people should care about them.  So he doesn’t like his wife going there when she should be there to serve him. So he forbids her.  So what does the wife do?   She could rebel and say “Well, I’m going anyway.”  Peter says “Be submissive; win him over.”  You might not agree but keep listening and hear me out.

 

Peter takes a very unexpected line here.  He writes a paragraph on “HOW TO BECOME A VERY ATTRACTIVE WIFE.  I expect you will be interested in that. It is rather a good line to take and I suspect that that is what the fashion magazines are about: how to be attractive to the men.  Some ladies spend a lot of money on how to look good, how to have great sex-appeal, and the result can be very sensational.  Sometimes I am astonished at their amazing fashions and sometimes I don’t quite know how to react to them.

Peter’s point is, of course, that BEAUTY IS OUT OF THE INNER CHARACTER.  It is said that beauty is only skin deep.  I say that beauty is very deep, interior to the person. NIV says it is not with the aid of jewels and clothes and the hair-do. It is “of your inner self, the unfading beauty” of the spirit, the personality.

PETER GIVES THE EXAMPLE OF ABRAHAM AND SARAH. Sarah was the mother of their nation, and she was said to have been one of the most attractive women of all time.  She was certainly attractive to Pharaoh and he made a bid for her and nearly got her too. But Peter said that it was the beauty of her character.  According to the customs of the day she called her husband “Lord” and Abraham called her “My princess” (which is the meaning of the name) - in other words she was always the girl he fell in love with years before.  It was the unfading beauty that did it.

I heard about A BEAUTY PRODUCT COMPANY which asked children to send pictures of the most beautiful lady they knew.  Thousands of kids sent letters and one was quite striking.  It was from an orphan from a run –down neighbourhood. The letter was rather a mess with a lot of mis-spellings, and it said “A beautiful woman lives down my street; I see her everyday; we play board games and she listens to my problems.  When I leave she yells out of the door that she is proud of me.”  The boy ended his letter “This picture shows that she is the most beautiful woman in the world, and I hope that I have a wife as pretty as her.”  The managing director asked to see the picture and his secretary handed him the photo of a smiling toothless old woman sitting in a wheelchair. Her grey hair was tied back into a bun. She had a wrinkled face and twinkling eyes.  The managing director said “We can’t use this picture. She would show the world that our products aren’t necessary to make someone beautiful.”

 

So Peter says that LIVE A REALLY BEAUTIFUL LIFE AND YOU MAY WIN OVER YOUR HUSBAND WITHOUT EVEN SAYING A WORD.  It’s not by preaching, or nagging.  Like someone said “Preach the Gospel at all times; use words when necessary.” Your life will make the difference and win his respect.  Peter even goes so far as to remind couples that they are “joint heirs of the gracious gift of life” (which was the text which Daphne and I had on the cards we sent out announcing our engagement.  Peter goes on to mention prayer in the home: “your (plural) prayers”).  That would be a very meaningful unity.  I think that all this is very desirable.  Not that you should go home and repeat what I have said. Go home and live it out.

CONCLUSION.  

Today’s scripture has been all about marriage and perhaps some feel left out because we were never married or we have lost our partners.  Never mind.  There is a concluding paragraph which begins “Finally, all of you….”  Look it up now and pray that it may be true for you.

Finally, I’m reminded of THE LADY WITH THE LAMP passage in Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” recorded in Matthew 5.14-16.  It’s getting dark and the lady of the house must light the lamp – not a simple matter in days before matches.  But she gets a flame from somewhere, lights the lamp and places it in a place where it gives light to all.  As a result, says Jesus, people will “see your good deeds.”  The word good in that context is the Greek word “kalos” and it means “beautiful” or “attractive”. That’s the kind of person we should always seek to be.