In order to support our churches using the lectionary, this week’s readings jump around the readings from last week. The scriptures from last week set the stage for this week.
God’s call to be stewards who “do good,” even in circumstances of unjust suffering (2:19-25) compliments the opening words of chapter two which call us to maturity and living hope that is founded and completed in Jesus.
God’s call to be stewards who “do good” by submitting to our authorities (2:13-18) is translated into godly order for marriage and family relationships in chapter three.
Offering Spiritual Sacrifices
Peter shapes the imagery of these chapters in “Temple Talk.” He is fully aware that his audience is socially distanced from their Jerusalem Temple. He turns them to the reality of the Temple fulfilled in Christ. He is the chief cornerstone. He is the beginning and ending of everything temple worship was teaching. In Baptism, we have been joined to Christ and this marvelous Temple community. Together we are “living stones,” “chosen people,” “a holy priesthood,” “a holy nation,” “people who belong to God!” Ever since the resurrection of Jesus, the temple sacrifices have been deployed, sending hope to the world.
The pandemic has temporarily impacted our familiar worship routines, but it has no power to interrupt the flow of God’s grace distributing hope to our world. We may be exiles in this new world. We are also people belonging to God that we may declare the praises of Him!
Our present circumstance and the Epistle of Peter challenge us to reexamine our stewardship of the gifts of God. These meditations uncover the vast resources and opportunities we have to make “spiritual sacrifices” that bring hope everyday people—inside and outside of the Church.
Set aside at least five minutes for these daily exercises and you will end up using them to offer spiritual sacrifices for days to come! You can do this alone or in a family group. Take the grace you find and give it away!
Read: So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:1-3
Reflect: Peter opens with ugly “grown up” traits. Everyone is vulnerable to these infections. Where is your greatest vulnerability? Peter finishes with a twist: childlike faith. Recall a simple Bible verse or teaching you can use this week with grace to help you keep “putting away” and “growing up.”
Read: As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 1 Peter 2:4-8
Reflect: Keeping in mind “you” is plural, how is God calling and positioning you as He builds up His spiritual house during this crisis? What spiritual sacrifices is He calling you to offer in these days that will build up His Church?
Read: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10
Reflect: Of the many metaphors here, which one is strongest in connecting you to your church family? How does the image inspire you to speak confidently of your personal story of God’s mercy? Who will you tell today?
Read: Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:11-12
Reflect: Recall a time when you witnessed someone speak critically of your faith or other believers. How did you respond? What insights from this passage help prepare your soul and your response in future settings?
Read: Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 1 Peter 3:1-7
Reflect: Whether you are male or female, married or single, how does your conduct, speech, and respect across gender demonstrate your submission and hope in Christ? How will you offer a spiritual sacrifice that blesses a marriage today (yours or another) not with vanity but with “imperishable beauty” and hope?
Read: Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:8-12
Reflect: What examples of “spiritual sacrifices” do you find in these verses? How do they specifically offer hope? What is one specific act of hope you will offer as a spiritual sacrifice today?