We are at war! It may not always appear that way, but we are. As the church of the Living God, we are called to be a force in the earth, to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom power, and to push back the powers of darkness. We are called to advance, not retreat, to walk in power and Holy Spirit anointing, not confusion and timidity. We have a divine commission and are therefore on a mission. At the same time, we recognize that the weaponry we depend on is not of this world. In fact, our weaponry is a polar opposite of what the world uses to make war. Instead of hate, we love, in the place of vengeance, we forgive and we pray, rather than causing death, we are agents of eternal life. This is the mission of the prevailing church.
The enemy of our souls, Satan, and his dark angels, knows our mission as well. He has fought it for centuries. While doomed to destruction, he is relentless in his attacks against the people of God as we invade his territories and free his captives. His tactic is to seek a weak spot, and then exploit it. He carries out these attacks on the church around the world, finding culturally appropriate ways of weakening the witness of the church.
In the western church, Satan has attacked the integrity of the family by putting division between the generations. He separates children from parents and grandparents, the younger from the elder. The results of this evil infiltration are devastating. Yet God provides us with a bonding (an epoxy) that will keep us together as the body of Christ, even while under all the attacks of the world, the devil and the flesh. The apostle Peter presents us with three basic components, which, if blended together in correct proportion, will enable us as a church to prevail in Gods mission on the earth. (Approximate date of this letter: AD 65, Nero was emperor of Rome).
Peter begins with instruction for those of us who are mature (vs 1-4)
A. Some commentators state that what Peter is referring to here is generational rather than positional
B. The instruction here is for the older ones (elders) to look after (shepherd) the younger ones as they follow the Lord together
C. Note the characteristics of this shepherding (v 2-3)
1. Doing it willingly
2. Not because you have to (compulsion)
3. But because you want to (voluntary)
4. Doing it under the direction of the Holy Spirit
5. Not because you might gain an advantage
6. Not using force
7. But by being an example to those you influence
D. This brings to us the first ingredient of the epoxy HUMILITY (Pr 18:12; 22:4; Eph 4:1-2; Php 2:3)
Peter continues with instruction for the younger ones (v 5)
A. The first thing needed in the life of younger believers is a willingness to trust and submit themselves to those older than they are in Christ
1. Be subject = voluntarily come under their influence
B. The second thing Peter states here is a mutual humility and harmony between the generations
1. First, there is respect
Respect towards those who are older than you
But there is also a respect that flows downward generationally from the elder to the younger
2. Second there is the attitude of mutual service
Note: Clothe yourselves with humility
- Egkombóma = the white scarf or apron of slaves (Jn 13:4)
- It is characterized by otherlymindedness
3. Third, there is an acknowledgement of the absolute spiritual bankruptcy of pride
Pride says, I dont need
Pride keeps us from recognizing the value of others
C. The result of this mutual respect and service is the second ingredient of the epoxy of the church UNITY (Ps 133; Jn 17:23; Eph 4:3,13; Col 3:14)
1. Ps 133 Note the downward flow of UNITY as seen in the example of the oil flowing over the head, the beard and the robe of Aaron
2. The result of such unity can be summed up in the word ANOINTING (Joel 2:28)
D. The result of us humbling ourselves both towards God and each other will be the lifting up and strengthening of us at the time of need (v 6-7) (Mt 24:45)
1. In addition is the promise of God to care about what we care about. He tells us to put our cares, our worries on Him.
2. When we humble ourselves, we acknowledge that we are not really capable of handling everything that comes up in our lives. We recognize our limitations and give them to Him.
Peters final instruction in this passage directs us to the strategy of the enemy with regards to the church and what our response should be (v 8)
A. He begins with the exhortation for us to be on our guard
1. Be sober = to be sober, calm and collected (not panicky or fearful)
2. Be alert = keep awake
B. Why? Because Satan is seeking individuals to devour
C. Resist Him, firm in your faith (Eph 6:13; Jas 4:7)
1. This is the third ingredient of the divine epoxy for a prevailing church SPIRITUAL WARFARE. Some thoughts:
Dont do it alone (Ecc 4:12)
Be ready for it. It WILL happen to us (Eph 6:11-13).
- Dont think that if we dont engage in spiritual warfare, then the enemy will leave us alone. We cant make a deal with the devil (1 Ti 1:18; 6:12).
- Dont look for it. It will find us, either through a personal attack on us, or on someone close to us.
- Dont shrink back from it. We can prevail with the strength of the Lord.
Be deliberately cross-generational in spiritual warfare
- If we are younger, then we get help from someone older
- If we are older, then we walk through it with the help of others as an example to the younger
D. He reminds us that there is suffering involved (v 9-10)
1. It appears in various forms to the church around the world
2. It is not uncommon
Conclusion: As followers of Jesus, it is essential for us as members of the Body of Christ, the Church, to walk out our life together with humility and unity while recognizing that we are at war with the powers of darkness. These three are some of the ingredients that cause the church to be a force for God in the earth. Let us endeavor to move ahead together and to leave no one behind, young or old. We move together as a Multigenerational Church.
A. When I look at the three ingredients for the divine epoxy, are any of the three missing from my life?
B. What action will I take to change this?
C. Who are those around me that I can stand together with and serve God?
D. What will I do to strengthen the bond between myself and them?