1 Peter 3: 1-7
When we went to Kenya, the question, “How many children do you have?” is one of those complicated cross-cultural situations that we learned to avoid. One answer was 27 as they had 3 wives and all had the same father. Another answer involved questioning how many children survived which can be a painful conversation. A third response was that they had as many children as the stars in the sky because to give a specific answer might doubt God’s ability to provide more children and amount to a curse. It was quickly explained that the question about children was paramount to asking an American how much money they have in the bank. We don’t do it. It was also true that all the children of the people in my age set were also my children so “individual” ownership of children was not understandable. But the most common answer was a number where the speaker numbered his wife as one of his children because he was responsible for her, like a child. I gained a new insight into passages like the first part of chapter 3 of 1 Peter.
Peter is addressing a culture where women are counted a bit higher than a slave but certainly not with all the social power and respect as we have in the Western world today. It is grating on our ears and hard to hear past our cultural lenses to understand the message. The big picture Peter is talking about deals with the evils and injustices that plague our lives and how we are to look to Jesus as a model. The word he uses is “submit.” That is a different word than “agree” nor does it imply “correct.” We are looking with a microscope at that tension we talked about between injustice and faith. Another way to say it today is to ask what is the best way to speak truth to power? Wives are advised to submit, not agree, not endorse or approve. The reality is they were not in a position of power. We use idioms like “a tablespoon of sugar makes the medicine go down,” “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” or “a soft answer turns away wrath.” Jesus is the model. He did not approve of the cross or slavery but violence spins out more violence and love is the best approach. I think the clincher is the final sentence, ”If you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” Fear is the enemy. Evil is the enemy, not the other person. I do not like to have to submit naturally but I know all of us doing what WE want leads to anarchy. Keeping my heart focused on a greater picture of a God who is just, impartial and values me, helps me when I have to swallow my pride and work with the system. “A quiet, gentle spirit” that genuinely loves and cares in a friend is a wonderful gift.
Ponder how you might show more love and respect to just one person you care about this week. “Pay love forward” in faith that God can multiply your investment. Blessings.