It’s difficult for us today to deal with some of the words In 1 Peter 3, particularly, “Wives submit yourselves to your husbands,” Now, let’s be real – the word “submit,” for most of us whether we are married or not, often elicits a negative reaction. It conjures up images from the not-so-good old days when women had no voice, couldn’t vote, couldn’t own property, and so on. But that’s not all that Peter is talking about here … even though our worst impressions of those days were true in his day. If we stick with it and read the entire chapter, and keep sight of the context, Peter is talking about something radical. He is saying that a relationship is a two-way street; that authority and leadership can only come with honor and respect. It’s a template for us as Christians and for the church.
Peter uses some pretty interesting examples to further illustrate his point. He writes that beauty should not come from outward adornment but from the inner self. He is saying that more of our time should be spent cultivating a gentle and quiet spirit, one rooted in our relationship with God, instead of on our outward appearance. And then, to drive his point home, Peter turns to another example, Sarah and Abraham. He uses Sarah as an example of obedience and respect. But if you think that Sarah was a quiet, subservient wife with no independent thought of her own or influence in her marriage, you need to read or re-read Genesis.
Peter’s words, although somewhat archaic to our way of thinking, are actually quite encouraging. He’s reminding us that we don’t have to be perfect or have it all together. We don’t have to be the smartest, the most talented, or the most successful. We just need to place our trust in God and follow God’s plan for our lives. We just need to be faithful as God is faithful. In Peter’s first-century language, that means we, as individuals and as the church, need to submit to God. None of this is easy, of course, but it might help to remember, as Peter wrote earlier in his letter, that God views each of us as a precious, chosen, and valuable stone upon whom He depends to build His church. God doesn’t want you to respond, believe, or serve out of fear. Peter isn’t trying to scare his readers, including us, into action. Instead, he’s reminding us of all that God wants from us – not because of who or what we are, but because God sees what we can be. What do you think?
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