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God Who Cares

Updated: Jul 2, 2023





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As we began our study of 1 Peter, I commented that this letter was applicable to our days today. 1 Peter speaks to Christians in the first century who are dealing with trials, difficulties, and hardships from their Greek and Roman neighbors. These Christians stood out against the backdrop of their culture. 


Following the way of Jesus can lead to friction with our family, neighbors, and friends. Some may not understand why we follow Jesus or why we may not participate in some of the activities we once did. 


Today, our culture is experiencing many changes. Ideas and social norms are being challenged. Christianity and religion, by many, are being reexamined or deconstructed. 


Not all change is bad, and at times change is needed. The Transatlantic Slave Trade affected some 10-12 million Africans. In the Americas, it was abolished in 1808. In the mid-19th century, the women's suffrage movement led to what many considered a constitutional change, giving women the right to vote. In more recent history, the American civil rights movement, which in 1968 abolished racial segregation and discrimination. Not all change is bad, and at times change is needed. 


As Christians, how do we walk faithfully with the Lord amid the challenges of culture? What is our response when faced with hostility, criticism, and friction? This is the letter of 1 Peter as Peter instructs Christians in godly wisdom as they stand amid the difficulties of culture.


To The Humble 


In Chapter 5, Peter shares his final remarks. Last week we talked about church leadership. Peter instructs church leaders to "Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care" (1 Peter 5:2). In our lesson today, Peter directs his thoughts to the flock or, in general terms, the church.  


Many years ago, I was given a book to read on church leadership. It was called "They Smell Like Sheep," written by Dr. Lynn Anderson. This book is an exploration of church leadership in the 21st century. The premise is that shepherds smell like sheep, and this type of leadership can be dangerously dirty and smelly. Shepherds must be with the sheep. The implication, though, was that I was a sheep. I don't know what to think about being called a sheep. My opinion of sheep is that they could have been more smart. However, it is a metaphor Peter uses throughout Chapter 5. 


1 Peter 5:5–6

"In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."


Peter calls us all to walk humbly toward one another and before God. It's the idea of not being so proud of ourselves that we rely on our strength and do not follow the way of Jesus. The practice of Jesus was marked by humble service. You recall the powerful scene on the night Jesus was to be handed over (John 13). He took off His outer garments and wrapped a towel around His waist. Pouring water into a bowl, Jesus began to wash the disciple's feet. Peter calls us to follow in the humility of Jesus. 


Pulling from the Old Testament Book of Proverbs, Peter reminds us that God stands against the proud.(1) However, as Isaiah the prophet proclaims, God revives the heart and spirit of the lowly. They will be exalted with Him.(2) 


Amid suffering and trials, be humble, relying on God's strength and power so that He may lift you up. Often we want to rely on our wisdom and our justice. Following Jesus is relying on God's wisdom, strength, and justice.

 

He Cares For You


God both hears and cares about suffering and injustice. 


1 Peter 5:7 

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."


God both hears and cares. This statement may not sound like such a great revelation to us. However, this is a powerful statement. God hears our cries, and He cares for us. 


In the Greco-Roman culture, many idols and gods were made of stone, wood, and expensive metals. Such gods were worshiped as worshipers sought the favor of some deity or god. However, these gods could not hear the cries of those who worshiped them. 


In 1 Kings 18, the prophet Elijah has a show-down with the prophets of Baal at high noon. They each put a prepared bull on a wood pile. However, instead of setting fire to the wood, they were to call upon their god to consume the wood and bull. 


1 Kings 18:27 

"At noon Elijah began to taunt them. "Shout louder!" he said. "Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened."


Elijah's point is that Baal is a lifeless, mute god incapable of hearing. But not the God of the Hebrews. Twelve stones are placed around the woodpile. Elijah instructs the people to pour water on the bull and the wood, so much so that water ran down the altar and fills the trench. 


1 Kings 18:36–38 

"At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: "Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench."


God hears the cries of His people. He is not a God who stands idly by. Remember the words of the Lord to Moses at the burning bush. 


Exodus 3:7–8 

"The Lord said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites."


God is concerned about injustice and suffering. We can have confidence that He hears our cries because He cares for us.  


Stand Firm In The Faith


Peter again turns to the sheep metaphor as the devil is compared to a roaring lion seeking to devour.


1 Peter 5:8–11 

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."


As Christians, we need to be self-controlled. The accuser and slanderer seeks after those to devour. The slanderer stirs up suffering and persecution to test and possibly destroy the faith of God's family. 


The church has always struggled against the backdrop of the world's culture. At times these attacks have been easily recognizable, such as persecution under the Roman Emperor Nero. At other times the enemies' attacks are less noticeable. Such as in times of peace when we can feel comfortable and a bit apathetic. For believers, suffering, trials, and hardships are not uncommon; as Peter indicates, Christians "throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings." However, we need to recognize the source of our strength. God will "restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”


Bridging The Context


1 Peter is written to Christians who are suffering for following Jesus. They are experiencing trials, hardships, and persecution for following the way of Jesus. Peter's letter is a letter of encouragement as he instructs us through God's wisdom on navigating a culture where friction is created. 


Humbly rely on God, who hears and cares as we stand firm in the faith. 




notes:

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from: Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.



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article: God Who Cares

handout: God Who Cares

slides: God Who Cares




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