And to those who have received Him, Jesus Christ, to them He gave the right to become children of God, John 1-12. See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us that we would be called children of God, 1 John 3-1. Because of that, the apostle Paul will write, be devoted to one another in brotherly love, loyal love, Romans 12-10. Keep on loving each other like brothers and sisters. Hey, is there something different about you? Has someone ever said that to you?
Maybe after a haircut or some other change? Well, a remarkable transformation takes place as people come to saving faith in Christ. They join the body of believers that we call the church, and the church lives and acts in ways that seem unusual and different. Today, Stephen Davey begins a series called Christianity 101. It's a series covering some of the fundamental aspects of life in the body of Christ.
Today, Stephen launches this series with a lesson he's calling Uncommon and Unexpected. I have read that well over 100 years ago, a concert was announced, a symphony, and the featured violinist at that time, world renowned. The advertisements announced that he would be performing his solo pieces on a rare violin, at the time costing an unheard of psalm, $20,000.
In today's economy, upwards of $500,000 easy. The symphony hall was packed with people that were filled with anticipation and excitement. It wasn't long before this master violinist stepped forward and began to play, and what beautiful music it was. The symphony continued and was nearly over, and as this violinist began his last piece, he suddenly took the violin and threw it to the floor, stepping on it and damaging severely the instrument.
With that, he walked off stage. The audience was dumbfounded, of course, shocked at this, but the conductor who was in on it, so to speak, turned and announced with a smile that the master wanted them to know he was not playing a $20,000 violin, but a $20 violin. With that, the musician returned and the maestro finished his concert on that rare, expensive violin and few people could tell any difference. The point that he wanted to make was that the violin, though certainly important, could only make beautiful music in the hands of a master musician. I find that analogy to life very encouraging because I don't know how you feel, but I'm not a rare violin. You got any rare violins in here? I don't know about you, but I'm a $20 version.
I don't know how many $20,000 versions we've got in here, but I think most of us are $20 versions. In fact, the church reflected in this analogy is an orchestra made up of a lot of different kinds of instruments, frankly, but all of them from redeemed, common, ordinary stock. What makes us uncommon is the way that the master, the maestro, our Lord, plays upon our lives in and through us the tunes of grace.
He gets the standing ovation. He receives great glory when he's allowed by us in our surrender to play upon our lives the tune of grace and gospel. The Apostle Peter has already been describing the uncommon uniqueness of the Christian, though ordinary, extraordinary in his lifestyle. He's described us as believers living as foreigners, though in our native country it is a foreign country. He's told us how to respond to human government where we've been assigned under its authority. He's told us how to respond to human institutions of authority to kings and emperors.
He's told us how to respond to unfair treatment by employers. He's told us how to die to self and reflect the character of Christ in marriage relationships. Now what Peter does is move on to describe Christianity in broad, sweeping terms. And I think it's like this is the music of the gospel.
This is what it's supposed to look like and sound like. So if you have your Bibles, go back to 1 Peter, chapter 3, and let's pick it up at verse 8. Peter writes, to sum up, all of you be harmonious.
Stop. He's writing believers. He's saying, in other words, learn how to play music together.
The local church needs to learn how to play along with each other under the direction of the master composer. More on that later, but I want to point out, Peter begins by telling us that he's summing this up. Your translation might read, finally. Now, that doesn't mean his letter is over any more than a preacher's sermon is over when he says finally.
I'm just setting you up for later. But Peter is summarizing his previous statements on demonstrating Christianity. Now he's going to open that up in summary to a broader context.
He's going to touch on a lot of issues in rapid fire. He's going to talk about living it out, and I'd like to call his next comments a course on Christianity that we'll just entitle Christianity 101. He's taking us back to school. Not all of us are happy.
Some are leaving even at the thought of that right now as I speak. He's going to write some words on a chalkboard, so to speak, and he wants us to memorize them and then live them out, to follow up on them. And so I want to say at the outset as we begin this series of studies, this isn't a course that any of us can skip. You've got to attend.
You can't audit this class. You can't just sit in. You've got to do the work.
You've got to do the homework and the assignments. Peter is the inspired professor. The ultimate teacher is the Holy Spirit.
And the opening lesson we'll just call five uncommon virtues and two unexpected reactions. First adjective that Peter writes on the board is the word harmony. All of you be harmonious.
He's writing to believers as they play it out in the local assembly. In other words, take your place in the orchestra of the redeemed. And here's what it sounds like. It sounds harmonious.
It sounds like something you'd like to hear again. Now when Peter writes here that we are to be harmonious, keep in mind he's talking about harmony, not monotony. He's not talking about uniformity. He's talking about unity.
There's a difference. He isn't telling us to be the same in every way. If that happened, that wouldn't be harmony. That would be unison. This orchestra was glorious along with the choir, not because they all picked the same note and hung on, but they harmonized with one another.
Just watch the news reports. In a self-promoting, self-exalting, self-enamored, self-serving world, individual rights supersede the common objective. Mankind is anything but harmonious.
I've got a note and you'd better let me play it and you'd better let me hang on as long as I want to hang on and you'd better listen when I play it. In Peter's mind, however, this gives the church a wonderful opportunity, this outstanding opportunity to demonstrate to the world out there something absolutely uncommon. You people get along with each other.
It's remarkable. He writes another word on the board. It's the word sympathy. Notice all of you be harmonious and sympathetic. The word basically refers to sharing fellow feelings.
You could translate that. Or entering into the feelings of others. It's interesting if you observe the life of our Lord, a man, by the way, recorded in the Gospel by John, you find him entering into the feelings of others. He's a remarkable model, especially for men and for women alike. Think about the fact that his very first miracle was at a wedding that he entered in.
In fact, he aided the celebration with the creation of new wine. His first is at life's gladest hour, one of them, and his last is at one of life's saddest hours. And he fully enters and experiences the emotion of humanity. It's the remarkable thing about his incarnation. In fact, the writer of Hebrews uses the same word when he gives us that eye-opening description of Jesus, where he says that he was touched, same Greek root word. He was sympathetic, touched with the feelings of our infirmities.
Not just, I'm going to enter in with you when you're feeling good, when you're not feeling good. Feelings of your infirmities, Hebrews 4, 15. Imagine this thought, Jesus Christ feels your feelings.
Amazing. Christianity 101 teaches us the uncommon virtue of entering into the feelings and emotions of others with sympathy, demonstrating the sympathy of Jesus Christ. See, when we're in his hands, he plays that tune of sympathy.
Peter writes another word on the board. I would call it loyalty. My translation reads harmonious, sympathetic. Now notice brotherly. Treat each other like you belong to the same family. And more literally, treat each other like brothers.
Really? I had three brothers growing up. So I'm assuming Peter's not talking about that kind. I mean, the way my brothers treated me, it's a miracle I survived. The word is Philadelphia. He gives us the name of that city, Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. How many of you have lived in that city of amazing brotherly love?
I don't think anybody in Philly expects anybody to live up to the name of that city. Peter evidently expects us to live up to the name of the church, and every church is marked as a church of brotherly love. Brothers, sisters, young in age, elderly in age, some young in the faith, some old in the faith, some brand new to the faith, you and I cover the spectrum. We are children belonging to the Father. We've entered the family by faith and to those who've received him, Jesus Christ. To them, he gave the right to become children of God, John 1-12. See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us that we would be called children of God, 1 John 3-1. Because of that, the apostle Paul will write, be devoted to one another in brotherly love, loyal love, Romans 12-10. Keep on loving each other like brothers and sisters, Hebrews 13-1. This is family vocabulary.
Peter writes another virtue on the board. We'll call this one empathy. He adds harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly. Now, my translation reads kind-hearted. The word comes from the Greek word for splanchna.
It gives us the word splanchna, a word used for internal organs, the heart, the liver, and the lungs in the first century. In other words, Peter is referring to the deepest emotions, the deepest felt sense then of empathy. The apostle Paul uses the same word when he urges the Ephesians to be tender-hearted, tender-hearted, forgiving. Ephesians 4, 32. Just like Peter's earlier mention of sympathy, you might even think, well, that's kind of redundant.
He's already talked about this, right? The difference is that this particular word here refers to taking action to alleviate whatever the need might be that produces that feeling. It isn't just entering into feelings. It is saying, look, I want to be a part of the solution. How can I fix it? What can I do for you? How can I help you? It's Christianity wearing overalls and boots, showing up to be a solution. How uncommon is empathy? See, it goes further. We might dabble in sympathy. I'm sorry you feel that way. Empathy?
Let me help you. John Phillips writes historically in his commentary on this text how the pagan world of the first century before Christianity took root and began to make sweeping changes was a pitiless, callous, cruel world. Christianity that would affect Western civilization, producing all of the many benefits of it, as it would take root in a culture, would eventually say, you know, it's probably not right that we send a five-year-old to work all day in the mines.
What do you think? It would be Christianity and the seeds of it and Christians deeply invested that would end slavery. Will you go all the way back to the Roman world and discover when Peter's writing this, the Roman world had no empathy? Life was cheap, pitiless, callous. The Roman world had no such thing as a hospital.
Why would anybody care to care for anybody else? In fact, the only medical treatment you could get in the first century was if you were in the military or a member of the royal family. It was impossible to be treated well, medically. There were no nursing homes. There's no public education for the illiterate. There are no retirement homes for the poor or the elderly. There are no organized help, he writes, for widows or battered wives. There are no rescue missions for the addicted. There's no help for abused children or the homeless. There were no civil rights for the millions of slaves in the Roman Empire.
There were no orphanages, no missions, no charities, no social programs. These were all the byproducts of Christian empathy. Believers saying, there's a problem.
How can I solve it? Christianity did uncommon things, demonstrated uncommon virtues. Peter adds one last uncommon virtue to the list, it's humility.
It was already tough enough, but here we go. He writes, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kind-hearted, and humble in spirit. And make sure you notice that Peter didn't write, humble in church. Humble when people are looking. Humble when you publish your book on three ways to be humble and how I do all three. Now this is humble where nobody can see you. It is humble in your mind. Mind reads, humble in spirit.
This is how you really think about yourself, where only God sees and knows. And how uncommon is genuine humility? This is the attitude that Christ demonstrated when he humbled himself and became a servant. And we're told to adopt that same attitude in our own lives, that he, the king of glory, becomes a servant.
Now having lectured on that, Peter adds to these uncommon virtues two unexpected reactions. The first is resisting revenge. Notice verse 9, not returning evil for evil or insult for insult.
Christianity is demonstrated not only in how we act, but in how we react. These words for evil and insults mean exactly what you think they mean. Bad stuff, bad actions done against you, bad evil words spoken. It deals with both action, evil, and verbal evil that is insult. You're on the receiving end of bad things, undeserved things. You see, Peter isn't talking about Christianity and pious terminology. He isn't living in some ivory palace where he doesn't understand what you're going through or what I'm going through, you know, someplace far removed from that dog-eat-dog world you're going to go to tomorrow.
No, I like to think of Peter whose quill is dipped into the reality of life. He's anticipating that situation you might be going through right now. You are the recipient of evil.
You're the recipient of insults, undeserved. So what do you do? What's your reaction? He's writing here, by the way, in the present tense, which I don't really like, by the way. But what he means then is this is ongoing. Okay, three times I kept my mouth closed. That's it. Fourth time, woo.
Now ongoing, always. Don't return evil for evil and insult for insult. Will that ever be unexpected in your world? You see, you simply stop the cycle. You break the chain of, well, he said this so I'm going to say that and he's going to say that back and then I'm going to really get him with that.
Or she said this or she did that so I'm going to do this and boy, I'm going to get her back and then she's going to do this and I'm going to do that back. Stop the cycle. Christianity breaks the chain.
It fails to return what it has received. See, Peter tells us what not to do and that's terribly challenging. And notice what he tells us to do, notice, but giving a blessing instead. You think, hey, I've been doing great. I've kept my mouth shut. Peter says, it's a great start, but open your mouth and deliver a blessing?
The term translated blessing is the word from which we get our English transliterated word eulogy, deliver a eulogy. They're alive. You might wish they were dead, but they're alive. Deliver the eulogy while they're living. They can hear it.
Talk about unexpected. It means you're going to speak well of the one who is not speaking well of you. You're not only speaking kindly to somebody who's alive, you're speaking kindly to someone who is not speaking kindly to you. You see, the world's vocabulary is marked by belligerent pride. Christianity, our vocabulary is to be marked by blessing. I'm sure the believers in the first century church about now are thinking the same thing you and I are thinking, and that is how in the world will we ever be able to pull this off?
I mean, you talk about raising the stakes. Well, this is why Peter ends this verse with a reminder of our unending future. Notice this, for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. By the way, if you think I'm the only person in here with a calling, you're wrong. We've all received a calling, and our calling is to deliver blessing.
Why? Because we are inheriting a blessing. Don't forget, Peter writes, you've inherited an eternal blessing. Did you deserve that? No. Did you earn that? No. Did God give it to you because you were special? No.
Did God give it to you because you had a leg up? You were better. You made better grades. You kept more rules. You did everything right. Is that why?
No. Grace says we inherit what we don't deserve. Now, Peter writes effectively, you're on your way to the blessing of your inheritance. So while you're going, deliver as many blessings to others as you can, even to those who misuse and malign, even to that one at work who's waiting for you with some caustic statement. You walk in and you say, hey, I hope you have a great day.
Good morning to you. And when they say something unkind, you walk away. Or you come back and you say, hey, you did a great job on that project. That is uncommon.
Who cares? You do. Don't forget where you're heading. In the process, we're going to fail. Often, that's what going through the curriculum is all about.
It isn't how smart you are, how strong you are, or how weak, or how frail. Peter is clearly implying that we need to increase our dependency upon the master. He's got to be the one playing on the strings of our lives and our hearts and our minds, or it will be anything but harmony and loyalty and sympathy and humility and empathy. We happen to be, beloved, a collection of $20 instruments. But in the hands of the master, we have this music of uncommon virtues and unexpected reactions, and we are really then able to invite our world to our unending future, this inheritance as believers in the gospel, our unending future with each other and with him. I couldn't help but recalling some lyrics from my childhood days. It was a popular gospel song.
It's since faded from view. It was battered and scarred, and the auctioneer thought it hardly worth his while to waste his time on that old violin, but he held it up with a smile. What am I bid, good people, he cried. Who'll start the bidding for me? $1? $1? Do I hear two? $2? Who makes it three? $3 once? $3 twice? Going?
But no. From the room far back, a gray bearded man came forward and picked up the bow. Then wiping the dust from the old violin, tightening up the strings, he played a melody, pure and sweet, as sweet as the angels sing. The music ceased, and the auctioneer with a voice that was quiet and low said, What now my bid for this old violin?
And he held it aloft with the bow. $1,000? $1,000? Do I hear two? $2,000? Who makes it three? $3,000 once?
$3,000 twice? Going and gone, said he. The audience cheered, but some of them cried, We just don't understand. What changed its worth? Swift came the reply, the touch of the master's hand. Many a life, out of tune, all battered and bruised with hardship, is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd, much like that old violin. But the master comes, and the foolish crowd never can quite understand the worth of a soul, and the change that is wrought by the touch of the master's hand. Stephen called this lesson uncommon and unexpected. It's the first lesson in a series called Christianity 101.
Between now and our next broadcast, I'd like you to take advantage of the offer we have for you this month. It deals with the topic of abortion. What's God's view of life in the womb?
What value does He place on that unborn life? Stephen's resource from Psalm 139, called Designer Made, is free today. Visit wisdomonline.org forward slash designer. We'll send a copy to your email inbox right away. Please do that right now, then plan to return next time as we continue this series on Wisdom for the Heart. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-13 16:51:02 / 2022-11-13 17:00:47 / 10