This summer a number of us went trekking together in the Holy Cross Wilderness area. It was delightful time! Hiked about 4 miles up the Fall Creek Tail to Lake Constantine where we set up camp for two days. Before we left we met to go over our expectations becausetrekking is a team sport. We would do all things all things mindful of one another: hiking the trail, setting up camp, cooking and eating meals. If we were going to enjoy our time together in the wilderness, we needed to all be on the same page. We also went over the rules of trail etiquette so that we would be respectful of others who were likewise enjoying the wilderness. One of these rules of etiquette is that when we encounter others on the trail, the hikers going uphill have the right of way and hikers going downhill ought to step off the trail until they pass. It is the right and courteous thing to do.
What we discovered was that no one else on the trail seemed to know proper etiquette! "The rules" which were also "our rules" were not "their rules!" It never caused us any trouble; our team was wonderfully gracious and would gladly let others have the right of way whether they were going uphill or down. It was just interesting to be reminded that many people do not know the rules of proper trail etiquette. And that is the way it is as we follow Jesus in this world. People have forgotten the rules of life spoken to us by our Creator. Now we who trust in Jesus are sojourners who follow a holy King whom the world has rejected; and so we live by different rules. Sometimes that causes us trouble, but it is what we are called to.
Peter challenges us to sojourn in the world together, and to sojourn in the right way as Jesus defines right. We, too, need to be reminded of the rules.
Read I Peter 3:8-17 carefully and twice.
- Peter describes our relationships with one another in verse 8. If you were on the outside looking in, what would this fellowship look like?
Why is this important? (recall 2:12; also, John 13:34-35)
blHow would you describe Bear Creek Church?
- Peter mentions five qualities we are to have in our fellowship. Which one is the most challenging for you?
- Verse 9 may reach beyond our fellowship. What is the principle? And what does it meant to "bless" people?
- Verses 10-12 come from Psalm 34. What does the Lord require of us (vv. 10-11)? What is the right way to walk in the world? List these directions.
- Do these characterize your life? If not, which one do you think you need to address?
- What is the promise and threat in verse 12? What do these mean?
- What is the message of verses 13-17?
- In this context, why might non-believers ask us for a reason for the hope that is in us (v. 15)? How do others see hope in us?
- Not everyone who observes the way we live will appreciate it. How are to respond to those who slander us (v. 16-17)?
- There seems to be a recurring theme in I Peter about suffering for being a Christian. Review what we have seen so far in I Peter 1:1-3:17. What does this tell you about our sojourn in the world?
- How do you think the Lord wants you to grow in sojourning together with others and in the right way?
Before we close, let me share a story I read a long time ago. The social reformer Margaret Sanger (1883-1966), in an address to her colleagues, told about seeing a small boy in an urban ghetto sitting on the stairs of a tenement. He appeared little more than a bit of twisted human flesh. The youngster had been struck by an automobile several months before, but his parents, fresh from Appalachia, neglected to get him proper medical attention. Although not part of her case load, she took the boy to an orthopedist and learned that through an involved series of operations the child's body could be made normal again. She cut through the bureaucratic red tape, raised the funds, and set the process of cure in motion.
Two years after the child entered the hospital he came to her office. To her astonishment, the lad walked in without crutches, and to demonstrate the completeness of his recovery, he turned a cartwheel for her. The two embraced and when the youngster left, Margaret Sanger reported that a warm glow mantled the entire office. She said to herself, "If I never accomplish anything else in my life, at least here is one young man to whom I can point where I have made a real difference!"
At that point she paused in her presentation and asked, "This was all several years ago now. Where do you think that boy is today?" Caught in the emotion of the moment several made suggestions - a school teacher? A physician? Perhaps a social worker?
There was a longer pause, and with even deeper emotion Margaret Sanger said, "No, he is in the penitentiary for one of the foulest crimes a human being can commit." Then she said, "I was instrumental in teaching him how to walk again, but there was no one to teach him where to walk." Margaret Sanger did not know Jesus and could not tell this young boy about a Savior who loved him and who would care for him and who would show him where to walk.
God be with you, and God willing I'll see you on Sunday!