March 1, 2015 [1 Peter 4:1-6]

March 1, 2015
"Past, Present, Future"
[1 Peter 4:1-6]
Pastor Kenny Lee

Just to tell you what’s going on in Peter. During the time of Peter, there is persecution; things are not going well for the Christians. Christianity is just starting, just emerging. Jesus Christ died maybe about 25-30 years back and Christianity is just beginning. So people are looking at Christianity and saying, “What is this?” Not only that, but people are actively persecuting them because they can’t really understand. Because they can’t really understand, there are all these rumors going around. They talk about communion and they’re like “They’re eating this mans flesh and drinking his blood, so are they cannibals?” There are all these fears going around and so Christianity is not popular. During this time, Cesar by the name of Nero, he’s the king and he burned Rome and what he does is he blames the Christians. So you can understand what kind of culture this is, it’s a very diverse culture. Peter is writing to people from Asia Minor, so they’re very different. Kind of like ours, not as intense, but kind of like ours. Christianity is not really popular these days, although we live in a country founded by Christian forefathers. So this is very relevant to us. Because of that, what does it mean to live for Christ? How do we live for Christ in this age and culture?

When I was growing up, I don’t know if you had one of these people in your class. But we had this one guy in our class, we live in the Internet age, so everything is videotaped and everything is recorded, so I’m not going to say any names, just in case. What are the chances that this guy would be listening to my sermon? I met him when I was in third grade, we were classmates all the way until about seventh/ eighth grade, went to different high schools and everything. Well anyways, this guy he was a little weird. He was odd, lanky, scrawny, had a bowl hair cut. And everybody knew he was weird, so all of us would look at him, because he would do weird things. We would have art class and he would eat crayons. He was the guy that would eat glue and eat crayons. And this one time, he would eat a red crayon and he would eat a blue crayon. I went to a Catholic school, so this girl, our classmate, would raise her hand and say, “Sister, (at that time it was Sister Clarice) Sister Clarice”. “Yes So-and-So?” “So-and-So is eating crayons.” And that guy would say “Sister, no! I’m not eating crayons, I’m not eating crayons at all!” And Sister Clarice goes “Come here, smile.” He’s like (in a muffled voice) “I’m not eating crayons, seriously! I’m seriously not eating crayons!” “Look, smile.” So he smiles, red, white, and blue. He was weird, we grow up in early age, and we don’t like weird people. So during that time, I would go to church, all these people, my bible study teacher would say, “You got to be nice to those people. You got to be nice to people.”  And Monday comes around, and I feel superficially convicted, and so I went up to that person and became friends with him, just a little bit. I noticed something and this was one of the first times I recognized this, so that’s why it’s so burned in my mind. I noticed something. People started treating me different. People started associating me with him. In the cafeteria, some of the people I normally sat with wouldn’t sit with me. Somehow I was weird. I wish I could say right now that I stood up for him and I did what was right. I wish it were one of those movies where all he had to do was take off his glasses, and he’s a good looking guy and show him some manners. “All I had to do was take off my glasses, and that’s it! I’m this jock all of a sudden!” But that wasn’t the case. People started treating me really weird, so what started doing was I started feeling the effects of the world. My fourth grade world… And I stopped hanging out with him. And somehow I gained all my friends back.

We don’t want to be weird. We learn from an early age that by being different like that or being associated with that is not good. We want to stand out. He’s a standout athlete; he’s a standout scholar. Wow, she’s a standout beauty. Man, that guy stands out he’s handsome. We want to be that though, don’t we? In other words, what the world values, we want to stand out in that. In terms of the world not valuing certain things, if we standout in something like that, you’re kind of weird. It used to be like that in the hippie generations, people used to really make fun of that, especially in the 80s. Because in the 80s, it was all about making money, it’s still all about making money. People that started making money, finally realized that those people who are artsy and all that, that’s where the real money is. And so now in your age, in your culture right now, being artsy is cool. That’s why ergonomic design is cool; gentrification is cool. When artsy people go into places its really cool, like Soho, like Tribeca in New York. Even Fells Point, all these creative people go in there, money comes in and looks really pretty and that really cool now. But it wasn’t like that.

The funny thing is, God calls us to be different. God calls us to be unique. So today I’m going to talk about our past life. I think it was John Stott, who says that we have two volumes of our lives. Before we were saved and after we are saved. In other words there is a difference between volume one and volume two. But so many times in my experience, that volume one and volume two gets kind of mushed around. Its not a clear chapter break. In books, there’s a clear chapter break. Chapter one, this. Chapter two, the continuation of this. There’s a clear chapter break, but so often that chapter break is not quite there. Its like volume one, we get introduced to Christ and it keeps on going. According to John Stott, there are two chapters. Two clear chapters. Before Christ. After Christ.

We’re going to start with verse, “33For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.” Life without Christ we do what we want to do. In other words, we do what we fell like doing. We do what makes us happy. We don’t do what makes us sad. We follow the patterns of this world, acting out of our sensuality, acting out of our passions of our eyes. It doesn’t merely have to do with sexuality or anything. Out of the passions of our eyes, out of our own greed, trying to satisfy our own selves. Drunkenness. Being filled with something else. A lot of times why we do the things we do, why we over-drink? Why do we have addictions and stuff like that? The reason why we have that is because of the fact because we don’t live in accordance with God’s will, there’s a lot of stress in our lives. There’s a lot of stress and all that. So what we do to forget that is we get drunk, we smoke, and we get into drugs, and many other things, so that we can forget about our lives. It makes us feel good. Because when we think about the realities of the world it doesn’t quite make us feel good, does it? To make us feel good we get into things like that, we get into heavy drinking, we get into sensuality, we get into drinking parties, we want to hang out with people who are just like us, so that’s what we do. Lawless idolatry. And that’s how we lived before we meet Christ. But Peter says something very different now, the present. That’s the past and now in the present, Peter says something different. In verse 4 “4 With respect to this they (the Gentiles, your former friends) are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you”. As a Christian have you experienced that? As a Christian have you experienced that? That you used to hang out with these people, certain types of people. You used to chill out with them, you used to drink with them, you used to party with them, you used to play World of War craft with them. You used to watch videos with them, you used to listen to music with them, and you used to do all of that. And all of a sudden, things changed. Let me get to know you a little bit better. How are you doing? Things start changing a little bit. Because you know why? Christ matters and because of that you change. Somehow your relationship with God matters and because of that it affects the things you used to do. And your friends are surprised. Naturally they’re surprised. “What’s going on? What are you doing? Why can’t we just drink it up? Why can’t we smoke it up? Why can’t we do the same thing that we’ve done?”

Augustine tells a story, which I’m going to recount for you and it goes something along the lines of this. Augustine before he was saved was a very handsome character. I’m sure he had a great personality and was good-looking guy. And he used to go around town sleeping with one woman, sleeping with another woman, and coveting with this person and that person and all of that. After his conversion, he became a monk; he became a very pious, respectable person. He went to this town, where he used to go there often before he was saved. He’s walking around and finally this one woman recognized him. “Augustine. Augustine. It’s me. Don’t you know me? Don’t you remember me?” Augustine looks and says “How do you do ma’am? Yes I do” and continues walking. Woman is a little perplexed, she’s like wait a minute. So the woman chases after Augustine and goes to Augustine and says “Augustine, don’t you remember me?” “Yes I do remember you. Of course I remember you.” He was saying something along the lines of this, “Yes I knew you, but it’s not me anymore. It’s me, but it’s not me.” Somehow he changed. Somehow there was a difference. Is there a difference in your life now? Or do you still have two sets of friends. You go to church, but you still go around and you are so accepted by these groups of people. But you know, you know, that if you acted like the church they will not accept you and you know that. You’re making a choice there. Does Christ matter? Does Jesus matter? Do you still want you old life and want Christ? You can’t. It’s Christ or nothing. Because you know that you don’t join them, you don’t join the flood of debauchery, they’ll malign you. They’ll check you off the list and you know that. The fact of the matter is, we go to the first part of Chapter 4 and what it says is that Christ suffered. Christ died. And Christ has risen and he’s at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. Why did he suffer? Why did he come here? And Peter says, Jesus Christ came, the righteous for the unrighteous. He died as righteous for the unrighteous, so that you all, the readers of this letter, may go to heaven. So that the readers of this letter may go directly to God

February 15, 2015 [1 Peter 3:8-18]

February 15, 2015
[1 Peter 3:8-18]
“The Good Kind of Suffering”
Pastor Brendan Wu
Transcribed by: Sarah Ro 

This sermon is entitled “The Good Kind Of Suffering” There is a good kind of suffering. For a lot of us, sometimes we do really dumb things, or really selfish things. Like we have a paper due the next day, instead we play Trivia Crack until 3 in the morning, and that isn’t a good kind of suffering… especially if you’re losing, but even if you win, you realize you lost when you wake up, lost all that sleep… everything. In 1 Peter so far, there have been two types of suffering that Peter really talks about. Peter talks about the kind of suffering we go through when we just do really foolish, selfish things and then we suffer the consequences for it. There’s also another type of suffering, it’s the kind that changes your life, it’s the kind that gives you life, that’s the kind of suffering when we go through hard times or difficulties or obstacles or pains because we love a person. It’s an amazing thing.

Peter is coming to a final part of his letter, usually when we write an essay, the final part of the essay, is a paragraph or something, and you say “in conclusion” or “finally”. For Peter’s an apostle, so I guess he has his liberty and his professor won’t mind or anything. And he can submit this and 2.5 chapters. This is the final part, so he says finally, but what he’s saying is “8Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brother 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.” And before Peter got to this, he was talking about a lot of different things. Peter was talking about submitting to worldly authorities that may be unjust at times and then he brought it closer to home. Literally, where he said among wives and husbands, even when husbands are not respectable, wives still be respectful. Because its not through your word that you win them over, but through your actions and loving Jesus. And then with husbands no matter what, we are called to live in an understanding way loving our wives.

When Peter is coming to this section, there is one verse that really stands out to me. And I knew it stood out for some of us, because there are questions that we had. This verse is 1 Peter 3:15, it says “15But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” In church and in Christianity a lot of times, I think we use this verse as kind of an evangelism or apologetics verse. We think that this verse just means, when people ask you about Jesus or ask you why you’re a Christian, then get ready to have a long list of reasons. Get ready to have a verbal defense or who Jesus is and everything. But if we look at the passage as a whole, I don’t think it’s just a verbal defense, meaning a 1-10 reasons for why we love Jesus. But instead it’s the fact that its our whole life, it’s a relationship that we have with Jesus.

When Peter writes, and Peter was an original disciple of Jesus. When Peter writes, “9Don’t repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for this is your calling”. I can’t help but think he is really looking back at the times that he spent with Jesus. When Jesus Christ was his Rabi and teaching him, and Jesus Christ was so dear to him. So those words that Jesus taught, he is rewriting here. It reminded me of Jesus teaching in one of his famous sermons “Sermon on the Mount” is what it was called. It was a very epic title, “Sermon on the Mount”. I would never use that title, its just too much pressure, a good kind of suffering, on a mount (just kidding). One of the parts of the “Sermon on the Mount” was when people attack or insult you, don’t do it back. So Jesus used certain examples. One example is when someone slaps you on one cheek; let them slap you on the other cheek. Take it. Another example was when someone takes one of your tunics; give them another tunic. Another example was Matthew 5:41. Matthew 5:41 says, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him another mile”.

I want to talk about how I imagine how this changed people back then, for those who realized what Jesus Christ was saying. How it’s just changing me, just really resuscitating a lot of my relationships. When Jesus Christ originally said if someone forces you to go with them one mile, go another mile. What he’s referring to back then was during the time the Roman Empire subjugated and basically ruled over the Jewish people. And the Roman soldier a lot of times, they would come up to a Jewish person, a Jewish man and say “Hey you, yeah you lad. Take my armor. Take this, take my shield, take everything else.” And according to historical records, this could weigh anywhere between 50 to 100 pounds, so lets just do average. So with our good high school and plus math, that’s about 75 pounds. So that’s about 75-80 pounds of armor, carrying it for a whole mile and they had to do that. The Jewish man just carried that armor for about a mile, he would carry it, he would carry it, he would carry it. But the Jewish man, when he thought about what Jesus had said, carried it for another mile. This Roman soldier is bullying me; this Roman soldier is oppressing me; this Roman soldier is basically torturing my life, making me into a slave. But Jesus tells me to carry it another mile. Okay, I’ll carry it another mile. And he carries it another mile.

What’s amazing is that, if you were a Roman soldier at the time and you were constantly bullying and bullying and bullying someone, and this person carried it another mile with you and then during that mile he wasn’t complaining, he wasn’t griping but instead he was looking at you and asking you “How are you?” asking you questions about your life, getting to know you. Wouldn’t that freak you out? Imagine the magnitude of that. During that time, before Jesus said that, I don’t think anyone would have been crazy enough to have wanted to do something like that. As I was driving to church this morning with two more people than usual, one of the two people, one of our sisters, I was talking about this with her. She was saying that that’s really weird, you know. Why would they carry it a second mile, they must have really low self-esteem or something. Yeah this reminds us of high school bullying. Did you ever see those movies or if you’re living this life, please talk to me afterwards. (Ain’t no good life x3) Someone who’s been bullied so much that you have so low self-esteem and you just don’t care anymore and after a while, before they even bully you. You’re like “Hey I already got you your lunch. Hey I got you this. Hey, can I help comb your hair?” You get bullied so much, you become like a lackey. But that’s not what the Jewish man was doing. What’s amazing is that the Jewish man was moved by Jesus and he was doing that for the Roman soldier. And the implication of that, like the Roman soldier would be so confused, that he would wonder why is this man doing this. He would go back to his barracks, and he’d be eating beef, pork, grains, wheat, hare, rabbit, that’s what Roman soldiers ate at the time. As they’d be eating in the barracks, he’d be confused and sharing this story with the other soldiers and the other soldiers would be like “Yeah, why is he doing that? That is so weird. We treat them so awfully, so horribly everyday and he’s doing that.” And the officer over the Roman soldier heard that and he thought “Huh, that is weird. Either has to be in surjection/ rebellion or something else, just something really weird. And that Roman officer would go up to chain of command and eventually talk to the centurion or Roman general. And the Roman general would hear of this and would wonder, “What is this? Why is this Jewish man, why is this man so kind, so merciful?” And the Roman general would be going back to the officer and say “Hey, where did you hear this? Where’d you hear this?” The Roman officer would be like “It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me. It was this other person” and he go back to that person and that person would go back to the barracks. And then everyone eating would get interrupted, and he’d go to the original dude and say “Hey who is this man? Who is this man? What’s going on? There has to be a weird scheme, some kind of rebellion? Hey, go find that Jewish man, I want to speak to him.” Just imagine that the Roman general goes up to this man that originally did this and he’s asking him “Why are you doing this? Why are you doing this? I force you. I make you carry my armor for a mile, and yet you want to carry another mile.  Why do you do this?” And the man would say to him, “I do it, not because I’m better than you in any kind of way. I’m not a good man. I’m not even a righteous man. But I met this man named Jesus Christ and he knew every single one of my sins. He knew how awful of a person I was. Even with the people that I said I loved, I didn’t love them in the way that I should have many times. But this Jesus Christ loved me so much and eventually gave up his life for me. And I saw him, I saw him carry the cross to Calvary. I saw him get beaten, slain, and live out everything that he taught. And not once did he insult back, not once did he retaliate, not once did he revile those who were reviling him. And later I found out that the reason he did all this, was so that he could purchase my life and give me a new purpose. And that is why I do it.

In that first mile, the man has to do that because the Roman soldier forces him. In the second mile, he wants to. Why? Because in the first mile its just the armor. The weight, the burden of that armor, it’s a big problem. It’s just a problem. But in that second mile, he realizes he doesn’t have to do this, but Jesus Christ had looked at this man and had loved him, so in that second mile, its no longer about the armor, it’s about the person. It’s a privilege now. He realizes that God put the Roman soldier in his life for a purpose. I am going through this suffering; I’m going through this hardship for a purpose. This is the most awful man in my life, but he’s put this Roman soldier in my life for a purpose. Jesus Christ got to know me and loved me. And now Jesus Christ wants me to get to know and love this Roman soldier. And I’m not saying that everyone was instantaneously won over in the barracks and they’re all like, “Oh my goodness look at what mercy. Here you Jewish people, here are back your rights. We will no longer subjugate and torture you and bully you no more.” But just imagine even if one, possibly more, probably more, even if one Roman soldier in the barracks realized what was going on, the kind of mercy, and the kind of love that was being shown. This Roman soldier would go home to his wife and love the crap out of her (and that’s a real Valentine’s Day). Just love everything out of her. He would look at his kids in a new way and think “Oh my goodness”. And that would impact generations and generations. That would impact his life in he barracks that would impact his life everywhere. Just because it started with Jesus Christ saying this one teaching. The good kind of suffering, suffering because we love someone that’s not so much a curse, that’s not a problem, it’s a privilege. It’s such a privilege.

Every single one of us, we go through life seeing so many problems. We live that first mile over and over and over and over again. There are things that we have to do. There are things that we are forced to do. And so often a time, middle school, high school, college, post-college, infinity and beyond, a lot of times we are just so consumed with problems, problems, problems. But what Jesus Christ is calling us to do, is look past the armor, look past the problems. And see the person, see the people in front of you. When Jesus Christ went up on that cross, the reason why he did not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling is because Jesus Christ wasn’t thinking I have so many problems right now. This is a problem that is a problem. I’m not saying that he didn’t go through any pain and suffering, he went through more pain and suffering than we could imagine, but Jesus Christ focused through all that, was the fact that we loved God and he loved people. And that made it entirely worthwhile. Is your life worthwhile? Is your life worthwhile? Are you just living to borrow a way that Pastor Kenny put it, are you just going from problem to problem to problem to problem? Just trying to resolve problems all the time or are you focused on people, the person of Jesus and people in your lives. Instead of waking up and thinking I have so many problems to deal with, can you wake up and think what a privilege it is to wake and man, there are so many people that God’s put in my life. Are there more problems? Or are there more people that you find a privilege to love and to serve? That is the blessing. People. The person of Jesus. And people that is the blessing.

There is something quoted from Isaiah here and it is so poetic and so I’ll just read it like that. I know some people in our church like to quote different authors and things like that, and you guys just memorize those quotes on your own, but when you read it, you read it with such style, so I’m going to try that too. So this is from Isaiah and the prophet Isaiah said “Whoever desires to love life and seek 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.” (Okay I tried, but it didn’t work out that well, didn’t have the same impact. You guys are more artsier than me.) This is the kind of way that we should live. And its not with the mentality that we’re better than people, or we’re righteous, or we have the answers. No we actually love people because we’re unrighteous. Jesus Christ is the righteous one who died for the unrighteous. This church is not a righteous church, this church is full of unrighteous people. But just like the Jewish man realized, we don’t love people because we’re better than them. We love people because Jesus Christ, knowing all of our sins, loved us.

When we go back to 1 Peter 3:15 or even right before that it says “15Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. Having a good conscience, even when you’re slandered”, even when people talk about you, talk ill about you. “Those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” When we come back to this, personally for me I remember when I first became a Christian I was really scared to talk with one type of person. I really don’t want to tell you the type, but I’ll prepare myself to share that. I was always nervous talking around very knowledgeable people, very super smart people, because I always thought that I need to know ABC all the way to XYZ of Christian apologetics and have all the answers and be this perfect smart person. But the more and more that I read this book 1 Peter its making me realize that its not like that. You don’t need to have the credentials; you don’t have to have everything together. In fact if you don’t have everything together and you recognize the fullness of how much you are a sinner and how much wrong you’ve done. But at the same time realize that Jesus Christ loved and served you because of what a privilege it is. Then when people question us or things like then or when we come across people we don’t need to fear them. We don’t need to be worried or troubled. Love Jesus. Love Jesus’ word. Live by simple example. If we go through hardship and suffer in the midst of it, it’s a blessing. Because of what Jesus did for us. So practically speaking, what has this thought done for me? What has Matthew 5:41 and 1 Peter done for me? It’s really rehabbed so much of my life. Man, I could be a really selfish and lazy person. And it’s so easy for me to focus on problems. But it’s the fact that I’m freed in Christ now and I’m surrounded by you guys. I’m surrounded by a church that is fighting to not just live a life where we have to do things, but we want to do things. We want to do things that God has called us to do. That’s to love people because it is a privilege not a problem. If you think that loving and serving people is a problem, you got real issues and I have issues. We need this more and more to realize what a privilege it is. There’s such a blessing in it.

Sometimes I don’t want to take out the trash. There’s a big load of trash. And we’re going green so hard now a days, so now it’s not only trash, but it’s also recycling, so I feel like a ghetto Santa Claus. Its just two big bags and sometimes I don’t want to take it out, but I realize that as I move the bags aside, I’m like “Oh, there’s my wife.” Take out the bags. Take out the trash. God through scripture, through Jesus’ teaching, through Peter’s teaching, through God’s word, he’s helped me in my life so much. To fight. To love and support my wife, although I fail so much. To love and serve this church at all. To go back to my old home, and it’s so hard, but love and serve my dad and my mom and my sister, my brother-in-law, and my niece now. But it’s not problems anymore, its privileges. I pray and my hope is as a church that we don’t just see so much stuff of life as a problem. But every person that God puts in front of us, that’s a privilege; it’s such a privilege. I think its so fitting that we have this passage today, because later on we’re going to have a congregational meeting and during that meeting, we’ll start practicing. What does it mean to serve you and love you Jesus? To know that it’s a privilege to love and serve your people. We’re here for a purpose. Other people are out there in the world loving and serving themselves or someone other than Jesus. The fact that we get to sit here means that you’ve been invited and welcomed to love and serve this Christ who already gave up his whole life to you. What a privilege.

February 8, 2015 [1 Peter 3:1-7]

February 8, 2015
[1 Peter 3:1-7]
"Inside Out Living"
Pastor Kenny Lee

When I first read this, I was like, “Man, I don’t want to be talking about this stuff”. That’s before I truly understood what Peter was saying. So I’m sure likewise the demographics our church is the fact that most of ya’ll are not married. You may have liked a person here and there but most of you guys aren’t married. So it’s easy, so tempting for young people to turn off the switch. “This has nothing to do with me, I’m scot-free this week”. But that’s not the case, just like my misunderstanding of what Peter was saying. You think that Peter is talking about just husbands and wives. “Submit, be loving”. Things like that. Oh no. Peter’s gonna rebuke us. I had a misunderstanding of that as well. So if you think that this does not apply to you guys, you’re sorely mistaken. It applies to you!

Let me give you a small recap of what’s going on. Peter is writing to the church in Asia Minor. They were gentiles by birth but they met Jesus Christ and they changed. They went from a polytheistic religion to a monotheistic religion. The family members of those people are thinking, “What are you then? Are you Jewish then?”. No, it’s not really Judaism. Yeah, they go to a synagogue but they believe in Jesus Christ. It’s true Judaism. It’s a hard pill to swallow. Not only that, in the general public it’s not a popular religion right now. In fact, they’re being persecuted left and right. Needless to say, it’s not a good environment for them. It’s a tough life that they’re having. They’re the minority. They’re being tortured, they’re being rejected. And Peter goes on to say, that as Christians we are say, “Hey, you’re right. You’re rejected by the world. But don’t you know that you’re accepted by God?” It’s not just merely accepted, but you’re actually chosen. You’re picked. You’re actually elected by name. Not by someone who doesn’t know you, but He does know you! Through and through. And He picks you. He chooses to love you.

Your theological understanding leads to action
Now, that changes things does it? God accepts me? The one who created the whole universe accepts me? He chooses and then gives us an identity! You’re a chosen race. That what you are is primarily a Christian. You’re not just merely a wife, a husband, white, black, yellow, red. You’re not that anymore. Even sexual preference. Whether you’re homosexual or heterosexual. You’re not that anymore. You’re primary identity is the fact that you’re a Christian, who happens to be white, Asian, a father, a son. Anything else. You’re primary identity is a Christian. But Peter of course doesn’t just sit there. Now that you have that understanding, that theological perspective, you have to do something about it. One thing I’m glad about apostle Paul, Peter, James say is – if you have a theological idea of what Christianity is all about, then act on it. Act on it! James goes one step further to say that, faith without works is dead! Not just half dead and half alive, but fully dead! How are you carrying out your theological understanding? You don’t have a theological understanding? I’ll give you one – Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Live that out. Jesus loves me? Wait, who is Jesus?? The Son of God, who happens to be the creator of the universe, died for me. The very person who knows me, loves me. Yes, He loves you. That means I should love them too. That I should get to know them too. That’s a wonderful theological understanding. You’re understanding of who you are, you’re transformed mind – should lead you to act.

Honor everyone, Love the brotherhood, Fear God
So last week, we heard Peter move on to that. We are told to submit. All Christians are told to submit. A life of submission. To who? To your boss? To people in authority? To a pastor? Yes and no. What the Bible says is that you’re submission is to God and God alone. And then God tells you to submit to your parents. Submit to your teachers. Your bosses. What the Bible taught us last week was this – there’s three categories that Peter sees in this world. One, He sees non-Christians. He sees Christians. And then God. Peter said you should treat everyone with honor. That’s the first thing. Honor to what degree? He talked about an emperor. In those days, the emperor had the ultimate power. He proclaimed to be the Son of God. The Bible says to honor the emperor. It’s no different. Whether you honor your children, those next to you, or honor the emperor. It’s the same thing! Peter says it’s the same level. So everybody should be honored. Everyone. Everybody. Now, for the brotherhood – for Christians. Peter says love and honor them. What that means is that there should be a certain amount of tenderness toward them. A certain amount of loving you have toward them. That’s what you are to have.

Finally, God. With God you should honor, love, and fear. Why is that so important? Our fear drives so much of our actions. For example, you fear being a loser so you have to win all the time. You fear this person, so you have to kind of avoid them. Think about it. Fear of disappointment. Fear of rejection. So you don’t even try. Some people tell them they never been rejected but what I tell them is that, they didn’t try their best. If you tried your best then what that means is that you have to get rejected. Often times, we miss out because we’re so caught up in fear. Gentlemen, can I give you a piece of advice? You don’t want to bat 100% all the time when it comes to life. You need to get rejected! You need to get rejected somewhat to know that you’ve got the best, ya know! If you got accepted by everyone then what that means is that you’re playing it safe. What drives us to do things is fear. And we just want to get accepted. But what the Bible says is that the one thing we should fear is God and God Himself! Not each other. Do you understand that? How much of our lives is dictated by fear of one another, fear of the world. It’s ridiculous! You look ridiculous! You have a relationship with the one true God and you’re fearful? That’s the kind of relationship you should have. You’re to fear God, love God, honor God. And you know what God says? Submit. So whether you submit to parents, to teachers, etc – that is a reflection of your submission to Jesus Christ. That reflects your relationship with God. Because it’s God who placed you in the place that you are right now. God placed you at church. God placed you with your mother and father. God placed you with your sister. That was last week.

Same Inside and outside
When we look start with Chapter 3, the first word it says is, “Likewise”. And then in verse 7 it says, “likewise”. So “likewise….likewise”. So what I’m going to do is look at the anatomy of this chapter. Likewise means, just like the verses before. Just like that, you should live like this. Do you know what that means in your life? The way you are in the outside world, should be the way you are in your house. In our family often times, our family is special. Our family is different. We treat each other lovingly and then outside, it’s a dog eat dog world. Somehow how we treat each other in the family is different from how we treat those outside our family. And a lot of times, our family culture dictates that for us. If your family is dictating that to you, that means your parents are saying – “Hey, be a hypocrite”. Act this way in the family and act another way outside. Peter doesn’t say that. Peter says, “Likewise”. Just like how I told you to live in the world, live that way at home. Live at church. Are you different? Do you live differently here? You get your holy on here and then get your bratty kid on at home? Is the way you treat people consistent? And it doesn’t matter how young you are. Doesn’t matter how old or young you are. Are you the same inside and out?

Peter takes six verses to explain submission to the women and then one verse for men. It’s really interesting. And this isn’t because women need to be told so much. But I think it’s because of this. I think for Peter it was really hard for him to explain this concept just like it is today. Because of that, Peter lays it out. But with men, he’s like, “Men, come on. You gotta do this”. And it’s not because Peter is trying to teach women. But also when we see this, we can’t just take it in context of husband and wife relationship. For example – younger brother, older brother. Mother and son. There’s a definite hierarchy that God put in family and in context of that, we should take it like that. I’m going to talk about husbands and wives, but those who are not married should apply this as well. If you have a mother, a father, someone who has authority over you – think about how should you treat them. And if you have younger siblings, how are you to handle them?

Our theological thought, the way we think about God should dictate our lives. Not the other way around. So many times what dictates our lives is status, money, work, school. And the things that we learn from those areas, often times dictates how we relate with people. The way we think about people is influenced. But the Bible says, our relationship with God has to influence everything else. Do you get that? Our relationship with our Lord Jesus, that comes from scripture because of Bible Study and the interactions in the church, should dictate how we relate in school. How we relate at work. Not the other way around. Even what you learn from your family. Even what you learn from your family, does not trump over scripture. It cannot go over scripture. So your thoughts on who God is, have to dictate how you are socially. If young people think about, you are commanded to make this a pattern. If you make this a pattern, a lot of things will change. And that’s the same with our relationship with our husbands and wives. So many times the way we view young love, come from dramas or society. Next week is Valentine’s day. You know what that means? Red roses for everyone! Whoo! It’s dictated by our society. Bible never says anything about giving red roses to women. Not that you can’t! Is that right? It may feel right. But the way God designed it is that your theological thought should lead your actions.

Submit to your own husbands
In the Bible it says, “Women, submit to your own husbands”. Women, if you have a relationship with Jesus, God is personally coming to you, wrapping His arms around you, and saying – “You know what daughter. I gave Him to you. Would you submit yourself to Him, for me?” That’s what God is saying. How do we submit? Who are we to submit to? To men that are just godly? No. Peter says, “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”. So many times, those who are in a submissive position are tempted to retaliate. When I first started working, I would look around and say, “This is so inefficient! This is so not the way to do it. If I was in charge, I would do it differently. I could take this place to a Fortune 500 company!”. Thinking I know something. And then I would act upon it. It just got me close to getting fired. Women, it’s so tempting isn’t it? I know! Men are dumb. I know! Ladies, I know. And I’m saying this as a pastor, that talks with women. That talks with men. Men you gotta step it up. Really. And when I see it, I am so thankful for the women of our church. Really, I honor the women of our church. That because of God’s word, they would actually use all their gifts to support us. Rather than point out how they would do it better. Honestly speaking, women could probably do my job and do it better. But the fact that they use that power to support me, support this church. My wife does the same. She supports in what I do and I’m thankful for that. Not that she’s perfect because she’s not. But what I appreciate about her is the fact that there’s a dialogue. There’s a communication that happens.

Peter also tells the women, “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear”. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a shower. Ladies, I like you adorning yourselves. It’s a good thing. Don’t give it up. But is that the only thing that you are? Just outside? Men, you too. In our society, we only are about the outside. We go to school. Why do you go to school? To regurgitate what you learn in school? You want to make your parents proud so you want to get straight A’s? But as you get older, you want to go to school to get a good job. And then you can get married and then have a family. All of that just so external. And that’s how you are taught in this world. And then the circle of life happens again. You have kids and then they do the same. The Bible steps in says, “Don’t buy into that. You’re made for more than that. You have a different design”.

I’ve been telling our church people that Christianity is all about thriving. When I ask people how they are doing they say, “Head above water, pastor. It was alright. I’ve been surviving”. What I tell you now is that, we are in a religion where we are supposed to walk on water. Not just merely head above water. Christians, we are meant to walk on water – not just have our head above water. Walk on water. Are you walking on water? In order to be walking on water, you have to have a mindset. You have a purpose people. You have a design people. Are you living up to that purpose and design? And what the Bible says is, “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.” Build yourself up. Fill yourself up with God’s word. Fill yourself up with the Holy Spirit. Tim Keller says, “Don’t be puffed up. Be filled up”. What’s the difference? Being puffed up, you’re filled air. When you’re filled up, you won’t pop when your poked. But on the outside, you look the same. Are you puffed up or filled up?

I wrote this cheesy little thing. There’s a verse about putting on the armour of God. This is so cheesy. “People of our beloved church. Put on the foundation of gentleness. Lipstick of a quiet spirit. Mascara of encouragement. Blush of patience. Eye shadow of longsuffering.” Ladies, the wonderful thing about this is that Peter gives an example of Sarah and Abraham. How Sarah submitted to Abraham. And all the ladies are like, “Yeah, but that was a godly man! There are three world religions that calls him father. Now that is a godly man!”. If you think that, you haven’t really read Genesis. Abraham was a screw up. Do you know what Abraham did? In the beginning when he was called, that was awesome. He heard the voice of God and then early in the morning he leaves. He goes to the promised land and then next thing you know, there’s a famine in the land! So Abraham goes down to Egypt –the bread basket of that region. There, Abraham realizes that Sarah is a pretty women. And other men will notice too. So what Abraham says to Sarah, “You know, if they know that I am your husband, they may kill me and then take you away. So, tell them you’re my cousin and then they’ll take you away.” How is that?? Sarah knew that that was wrong. Sarah was hurt too. Because there was a good chance that Sarah would become just a concubine to Pharoah. According to the scripture, Sarah did it. Twice. Not just once but twice. You would think that Abraham learned the first time but no. That’s not how men are and married women knows that. That’s how we are. Did Sarah change him? Did Abraham get away with this scot-free? If you read Genesis – boy, Abraham suffered a lot. He went through a lot. God taught Him. God led Him. Ladies and gentlemen, you’re where you are because God led you here. It’s your duty to submit to the Lord. And the Lord says, submit to every human institution.

Live with your wives in an understanding way
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way.”  Husbands are called to understand. So many times people in authority are used to giving commands, “Do this. Don’t do this. Do this. Don’t do that”. And maybe so. But what comes first is the understanding. Gentlemen, do you understand your sister. Do you understand your mothers? Do you understand them? Ask you actually asked your sister or mother, “Do I understand you pretty well?”. Ask them to help you understand them. Do you want to be a good leader, gentlemen? Then understand. Be an understanding leader. Understand where they are at. Fathers, do you want to be a wonderful father? Understand. Leaders, do you want to be wonderful leaders? Then understand. Right ladies? I bet you that’s the main complaint from women. Men just don’t understand. Kids too. It seems like mom and dad just don’t understand. Be an understanding parent. Be an understanding older sister. Be an understanding older brother.

Christ became the weaker vessel
Scripture says understand. “..showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you[a] of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” Gasp. Weaker vessel? Women are so much more tender and gentle then men. But I don’t think that’s what Peter is saying. Why are women the weaker vessel? Because God just ordained it that way. In the context of the church, in the way I relate with them, do I think they are the weaker vessel? No way. Not at all. I think they are just as gifted. Women are smarter. Emotionally, psychologically, mentally. Relationally. They are supportive of one another. They think with both hemispheres of their brains. They are just designed better! I think.

But why the weaker vessel? Paul says this in Philippians 2, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,”. This is what Christ was thinking when He was dying on the cross.

Verse 6: “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” Meaning, He was in the form of God. So God and Jesus, they are the same. They are equal. But Jesus let go. Do you get that?  “but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” In another words, Jesus became the lesser vessel. Jesus became the weaker vessel. Ladies, I know that you guys are – especially in our church because I’m a little biased - you guys are the most talented, beautiful, gifted women. And I am so eternally thankful that in our church women use their talents to lift up this church. Lift up flawed men, that may give them away out of stupidity. You’re the weaker vessel because you’re called to be the weaker vessel. You’re called to be like Christ.

Gentlemen, you’re called to be like Christ as well. To understand. Jesus understands us. Do you know how He understands us? He became like one of us. It was to that point that He became like one of us. And we are to serve.

February 1, 2015 [1 Peter 2:13-25]

February 1, 2015
“Live Free…Submit”
[1 Peter 2:13-25]
Pastor Kenny Lee

As we are going through 1 Peter, there are certain things that stand out. First, this a time period where Christianity is not that popular. That is an understatement. It is really unpopular. Christians were heavily persecuted. 1 Peter is written during the time of Nero, who burned down Rome and blamed the Christians. Peter is sending a message of hope to all the Gentiles in Asia Minor. Did it work? Yes, I know that because we are here. Can it work for you? Of course. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, explains to us that Christians are exiles. We are people who are rejected by the world. Is the world tough for you? Are you having a hard time fitting in? God says, “Good”, because you are not part of this world. You are rejected by the world, but you are so accepted by God. You are chosen by God. You are elected by God. Peter compares the Christians to his people, the Israelites. He says that we are sojourners, passing by the desert, headed to a promised land. While being guided by God, they are being attacked. These are God’s people. Peter gives Christians an identity. We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession. Because of that we are we to do with our personal life? We see from last week, we are to fight our own internal urges, fight the passions of the flesh, fight our personal desires, and keep our conducts pure. Peter associates us with Israel. Christians are the new Israel; the non-Christians are Gentiles now. It has changed. Before Israelites were Jews. Gentiles were non-Israelites. In Peter’s mind it has changed. Peter tells us to keep our conducts pure so that Gentiles may see our good deeds. That is how we are supposed to personally live.

The question remains: How are we to relate to the world? How are we as exiles supposed to relate in our work place, in our schools, with our friends, with our family, and in marriage? How are we to relate in every human institution?

The answer is through one word, submission. That doesn’t just go for women and children. It goes for men. It is an unpopular word. The world hates submission. We hate submission. We want to be free. There are movies like Bravehart that speak of this freedom. The word submission is one big criticism people have of church, especially by women. Today, I would like to clarify your understanding of submission. What does it mean to submit? Christian’s submission has nothing to do with gender. We focus so much on that. A lot of Christians say, “When we submit, ultimately it is to God.” That is true, but that often has the wrong connotation. “I can’t submit to this man. I can’t submit to this person. But I know that ultimately I submit to God.” Although that is true, I would like to take it one step further. Peter does too.

Listen to 1 Peter 2:13, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme.” Peter is telling us to, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake.”  Our primary relationship, before any human institution, is to the Lord. Let me give an illustration. I love my wife. I love my kids. My commitment to my wife is not my commitment to her.  My commitment to my wife is my commitment to God, and she happens to be the object of that commitment. You get that fine nuisance? It is my commitment to the Lord that makes me committed to my wife and to my children. Do you think my commitment to you guys is because you guys are wonderful, beautiful, and so worthy of commitment? Maybe you are young, beautiful and talented. I don’t want to disappoint you, but it is not because of you. I am not committed to this church because of you. I am committed to this church because of God. He placed me here and because of that, my commitment is to God. You just happen to be a part of it. You will see in time that every human relationship, mother and father, sister and brother, will let you down, guarantee. If you don’t believe me, you are deceiving yourself. Every human relationship will let you down. We are sinners. That is why we need Jesus. That is why we need to submit under the Lord. That doesn’t just go for women. That goes for men, especially. This applies to every human institution, whether it church, corporation, work, parents, anything. Peter adds an exclamation point to this. He says, “15For this is the world of God…” If you proclaim yourself a Christian, to live in submission is the will of God. We have to establish that first. We can go into specifics now, but you have to have that commitment. The commitment that says, “Lord, Yes, I am your servant. I want to serve you and you alone. Whatever may come next, I don’t care. I will serve you and you alone.” That commitment has to come first.

God is saying live as free people. He is telling us to submit in order to be free. We all want to be free. We all want to be released from our tyranny. God made us that way. You know how we want to be free? We want to get rid of our bosses so we can be the dominator. God is showing us that is not the way to be free. I like to take an example many pastors have used. This is an illustration I heard from another pastor. In Matthew 5:41, Jesus tells us that if anyone forces us to go one mile, go with him two miles. Apparently, back in Jesus’ time there was a law, because the Romans occupied the Israelites. If any Roman soldier did not want to carry his armor, he could request a non-Roman citizen to carry his armor for a mile. Jesus says something along the lines of after you carry it one mile, carry it a little further. He continues with that line of thinking by saying if someone slaps you on one cheek; give him or her the other. If someone takes a tunic, give him a cloak. Why would Jesus say that? Does he want us to be suckers? As we read 1 Peter, he is saying submit so that you can be free. Submit so that you are not the object of slavery. In one of the Bible studies after I gave that illustration, Pastor Brendon said something like this, “You see when that Israelite takes the Centurion armor for one mile, he has to do that. It is the law. It is required. He is a slave at that time. After he is done with that obligation, when he looks at the Centurion dead, smack in the eye, and says, ‘Sir, this is heavy equipment. I am still relatively young, it would be a privilege of mine if I could carry it a second mile.’ We are practicing our freedom.” The Israelite didn’t have to carry the armor any longer. Yet, out of his free will, as a free man he says, “Let me carry it one more mile.” How do you think that Centurion felt? That is freedom. At that time, he is equal to that Centurion. We are subjects of Jesus Christ. Our master is God himself.

I hear very often, “I will submit to a man when he deserves to be submitted to. You know that man treats me so bad. He doesn’t deserve my submission. He is awful. He does A through Z wrong. I am smarter and better than him. I don’t know why he is over me. I am not going to listen to him. He doesn’t deserve to be listened to. He is not honorable. He is unjust.” Peter has an answer for that as well. Really, after you hear this message all of you have to think about this in your own personal life. Apply it to your own life. Trust me it is tough. It is hard for me. “18Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also the unjust. 19For this is a gracious thing, when mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” A lot of times when someone suffers unjustly they make a lot of noise. When people are right they make the loudest noise. They want to be noticed because they are treated unfairly. “Someone notice me. I am suffering!” No need to yell. It is all right. I am telling you God knows. As clear as day, God knows what you are going through. I promise you. He sees it. Peter says when you are persecuted for being a Christian and you suffer, that is what you are called to do. That is what you are supposed to do. This is in the same way that Shaquiel O’Neil, who’s almost 7 feet tall, is meant to play basketball. You are meant to suffer because you are living as a subject for Jesus Christ. You are meant to be uncomfortable because this is not your home. There are temptations to make this your home. I promise you, this is not your home. In heaven you will have eternal joy. God promises that. So Endure. This is a temporary place. I will give you more encouragement other than my pleading. How are we to do endure? It can’t be from my cheerleading. We would be in trouble. We are to endure because Christ endured. God himself became man and suffered and died for you. “21For to this you have called, because Christ also suffered fro you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

You cannot go on example alone. You cannot say, “Jesus died so I can do it too.” Like the previous chapter, you need to experience God. You need to taste God. I gave you an illustration of pizza. You ever taste good pizza? It is bubbling hot, the mozzarella is melting, the crust is golden, and the marinara is just right. You are salivating. I can describe to what pizza is like, but for those who have never tasted pizza, they wouldn’t understand. For those who have tasted pizza or for this who are very Korean and have tasted really good kimchi jjigae, you know because you tasted. Your mouth is watering. Maybe we can go to Bertuccis tonight, you aren’t going to get Papa John’s because it doesn’t do it justice. My whole point is that you cannot survive on mere knowledge. It is an experience. You need to taste and see how wonderful God is. Did God die for you? Did Jesus take a bullet in the head that was meant for you? Did you see how good God is now? Did you see how wonderful God is now? Or is he just useful to you? “I am going to God’s’ house to get me a girl. I am going to God’s house to get me a man. I am going to marry me a Christian boy.” Is Jesus just useful to you? Beloved church, Jesus is more than useful. He is beautiful. Is he beautiful to you? Is he precious to you? You will not make it through this world unless Jesus is beautiful to you. Listen, this is how Peter makes it through this world. He was martyred. He died for Jesus Christ. He did it with joy because Peter saw Jesus as so beautiful. Church history shows that Peter was crucified upside down. He was martyred upside down because he practiced his freedom. Peter was found guilty of heresy, probably on the same charges as Jesus. These people wanted to crucify him. He said something along these lines, “Sir, I don’t deserve to be crucified in the same manor that my Lord was crucified. Would you find the decency in your heart to crucify me upside down?” Peter was crucified as a free man under the subject of our dear Lord Jesus Christ. You want to be free? Live free and submit.