READ 1 Peter 3:8-12
This passage wraps up one of the letter’s main sections. In 2:11-3:7, Peter addresses areas where his readers were struggling to make sense of how their new Christian faith fit into their vision of the good life. Peter addresses four major areas of life where they were struggling (we’ll call them the 4 P’s):
1. Place (2:11-12) – How to handle feeling like exiles, not fully at home in any place.
2. Politics (2:13-17) – How to respond in a difficult political situation & under political leadership with whom you disagree.
3. Profession (2:18-25) – How to respond to difficulties in the workplace
4. Partners (3:1-7) – How to respond to difficulties in marriage
OUR VISION OF THE GOOD LIFE
These four areas are places where they were – and we are – are looking for the good life. In verse 10, Peter quotes from Psalm 34; but he intentionally chooses to begin his quotation in the middle of the Psalm not the beginning – “whoever desire to love life and see good days”. This is exactly where his original readers were confused. Instead of experiencing the “good life” in these 4 P’s, they were experiencing struggles & suffering. This has led them to a certain level of disillusionment and disappointment with their faith. They were thinking, “I’m a Christian now, so why isn’t God giving me the good life? It’s not working!”
The dominant vision of the good life in our culture is built on what we can get from life. We obsess over much happiness and fulfillment we are getting from our 4 P’s. As Peter reaches his conclusion in addressing these things he brings it all together by showing them (and us) that Jesus has come to give us a new vision of the good life. If we desire to love life and see good days, we will need to let go of a vision of life that is based on what we get and embrace an entirely new vision.
A NEW VISION OF THE GOOD LIFE: OUR CALLING TO BLESS
Peter tells us Jesus’ new vision of the good life can be summed up in one word, “bless”. In this new vision, the 4P’s are not things where we look to get the good life from but areas where are called to give blessing into. If we ever want to experience the good life as God intends – we need to change from “getters” to “givers”. The concept of blessing is central to this vision. In order to give blessing, we need to ask a few foundational about this new vision of the good life.
What does it mean to bless?
Blessing is an important and rich biblical concept. On the very first pages of the bible we find God blessing animals, humanity and the seventh day. When God blesses someone/something, He is providing both purpose + power together. Blessing is God’s empowerment to live as He designed us to live. We also see that – after the curse entered into the world –God’s plan to reverse this curse and restore His blessing would come through people. He tells Abraham that He will bless him and that in him all the families of the earth will be blessed. (Gen 12:1-3) What we see is that blessing is not just a , it is a calling. Blessing is God’s calling to all who receive His blessing. When we bless others we give them a taste and a glimpse of life as God intends
How do we bless?
We bless others through words, actions and gifts (v10-11). What we say to others has incredible power. Christians are called to speak blessing (not evil or deceit). Christians are called to actively strategize how to “do good” to the people in their lives. When we serve others for their good and give gifts to others, we help them gain a taste of God’s abundant grace and love.
What happens when we bless?
In contrast to participating in the downward spiral of repaying and retaliating, blessing has the power to break the cycle of evil and hostility, draw others toward God & draw us closer to God. In fact, Peter is saying it’s when our vision of the good life is frustrated, that we actually have our best opportunities to live the new vision by giving blessing! As we seek, pursue and pray for the peace and good of others, we find our peace (see Jer. 29:7)
A FUTURE VISION OF THE GOOD LIFE
In verse 9, Peter reminds us that blessing is our inheritance. The word “inherit” (obtain in some translations) is pointing us back to 1 Pet. 1:3-4 “God has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.” By faith in Jesus, we gain the family inheritance of eternal blessing. This radically impacts our vision of the good life now. It frees us to be bold, sacrificial with our lives to bless others. It reminds us that whatever it costs us to bless others, it “will never cost us more than we’ve been given” (Douglas Harnik).
1. What about the sermon most impacted you or left you with questions? What is your vision of the good life? How would you describe it? How did you develop it? How is this new vision of the good life different from the vision of life you’ve developed?
2. Which of the 4 P’s is most frustrating and unfulfilling in your life? How are you currently handling and responding to this?
3. Have you experienced the power of intentionally giving blessing to others (especially those with whom you are having difficulty)? Describe the impact giving blessing had on the other person and on you.
4. Pick one of the 4 P’s and describe how responding with giving blessing might look (instead of responding in retaliation, frustration or confrontation)?
5. CS Lewis wrote, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in:” aim at earth and you will get neither.” What’s your response to this?