Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 1 Peter 2:11
In 1 Peter 2:11, Peter exhorts us to be pilgrims and not settlers in this world. When we are pilgrims we do not develop attachments and desires for the things of this world like money, success, fame etc. These desires war against the soul and drives us away from God. Instead, in verse 12 Peter says that we must lead exemplary lives in front of those who are outside the church, so that they cannot bring any accusation against us.
Peter was writing at a time when governments were hostile to the church. Peter tells the church that they should obey all the laws laid down by the authorities, for the sake of Jesus. Because of our commitment to Jesus we need to do this.
There are two areas where I find Christians to be remiss in this in India. The most glaring is obedience to traffic rules. I really find it difficult when people put Bible verses on their vehicles and then drive on the wrong side of the road or shoot through red signals. What are they trying to tell people? That Jesus does not care for the rules? Peter says that for Jesus’ sake we must obey the rules, not flaunt them. As a community we need to examine our hearts on this.
A close friend of mine gave the scooter to his daughter to drive when she was 15, because this was helpful to the family. The person is an evangelist totally committed to ministry. But the idea of having a good report among those outside the church to him was not necessary.
The other area is taxes. If a shop-keeper asks us if we need the bill we almost as a reflex action say we don’t. But this results in the shop keeper not paying the tax to the government. These are unaware of the harm they are doing. Some, ask the shop keeper not to give a bill but to share the ill-gotten benefit with them!!
When renting a venue for our church camp, the venue owner asked if we wanted the accounts to be kept on the books or off the books. Our church told him that it has to be on the books. He said that was a great relief to him as most churches asked for it to be kept off the books, and not charge them the 25% luxury taxes and other taxes. I wonder what opinion the staff of the hotel who are not Christians have of these churches when they do the financial jugglery involved. Is our behaviour exemplary before them?
In verse 15 Peter says that we need to be obedient to bosses who are harsh and unjust. I have found this to be very difficult. Somehow, we can take amount of suffering, but to take injustice, is difficult. Yet, this is the example Jesus set us so that we can walk in His footsteps (1 Peter 2:21).
Our Christianity is seen in the tranquility Jesus gives us in difficult situations. That is our testimony before those outside the church, that the peace that passes all understanding is resident with us in Jesus. This behaviour of ours is commended by God in verse 19, and so needs to be practiced.
Women are asked to be submissive to their husbands, even if they are not followers of Jesus, that their testimony would win their spouse to the faith. This has often led to difficult situations where some women have been asked to remain with husbands who apply physical, emotional or psychological violence on them. That is not the intent of the command. The intent is that our behaviour needs to be good, and the fact that your spouse is not a follower of Jesus does not make a ground for separation.
This good behaviour is seen not only in the way we relate with our spouse, but with the way we dress and behave in public.
Husband are to love their wives, taking the wife as an equal partner in the inheritance from God and show proper love and regard for her needs. Otherwise, Peter says that their prayers would not be answered.
Our family life needs to be a testimony to the world outside.