During our series, Living in the Margins, based on the book of 1 Peter, we are going to be turning our Touching Base into a prayer guide. This aligns with how we want people to be growing at Bethel. Being prayerfully engaged is one of the marks of a disciple, it characterized Jesus’ life and ministry and is essential as we learn to walk with Jesus. We encourage you to use this prayer tool in your Life Groups, and in your personal prayer time.
Think of a relationship where you do not have power or a position of influence but you want to have an influence for Christ. For some it might be a marriage, others a friendship, a family dynamic, a work-related context. You actually might have power and position, but because of your faith, your views are disregarded, your faith perhaps mocked and you feel very much in the margins. How can you get people to take your faith seriously? How can you have influence?
In our text today, Peter is addressing a particular situation where the wife of a non-believing husband is in the margins, no power or position of influence in that culture for the wife, yet Peter is encouraging her to have a spiritual influence. In fact before Peter raises the issue of marriage he has already addressed the Christian’s relationship with the government and in the work place. These are all contexts where they can have influence for Christ but have neither the power or the position - in other words they are in the margins. Guess what? We can find ourselves increasingly in the same situation. In the margins wondering how can we have influence?
How do people without power or position have influence? Influence for God! We encourage you to pray and discuss your way through the following principles that Peter outlines.
Big Idea: Tune In For Influence
1. Tune in to your audience for influence v1.2 (Mark)
Note that in all three scenarios, government, work and marriage Peter encourages them to be subject. This is a tune-in word. The idea is that we subject ourselves to the wishes, rules, desires of those we are in relationship to. If I am subjecting myself to the government I am tuned in to the laws of the land that have been set before me and I live in accordance with those laws. If I am in the work place, Peter says we are to be subject, tuned in to our bosses, subject to their expectations, the job description laid out for me. In this third context, the wife of a non-believing husband is to be subject to her husband. Tuned into his frequency, love language, understand his temperament. The woman might say- “ this is what I would like but I will submit myself to Him and do it his way.”
- What is the objective in our text? (v1,2)
- How challenging can it be to tune in to the person we are trying to influence?
- Here are some questions to ponder as you think of the context you find yourself in.
- How do they receive love?
- If you know them well enough you might know what their love language is.
- Do you need to step down from being the moral police for that person and let the Holy Spirit do His job?
- Have I prayed intentionally for this relationship?
- If I were that person I was trying to influence would I want to follow the Jesus they see in me?
- How hard is it in these kinds of relationships to lay aside my rights or preferences and subject myself to the ways and wishes of the person I am trying to influence for Christ?
- How hard can it be to “bite” my tongue and just demonstrate in conduct my love for that person?
- When is it appropriate to speak up? Note 3:14,15
This was no small task for the woman in this context. Dominant among the elite was the notion that the woman was by nature inferior to the man. Peter is saying if you want to have influence for Christ, it won’t be because you have power or position but because you have related in a way to your non-believing husband that helps them see, and experience the love of Christ.
Note - You will see in v.7 that Peter addresses the perfect context. My notes are at the end of this TB for further reflection. Of course none of us are in that perfect context; we live in a broken world, where influence for Christ does not come easy.
Take some time to pray into this principle of influence. Pray specifically for the people you want to have a spiritual impact on. Pray for understanding and insight into who they are and how you can relate to them in a way that will demonstrate the love of Christ.
2. Tune in to your heart for influence (v3-6) (Rhonda)
Said another way, this is the principle of influencing from a hidden place. Read the text - Peter is addressing women who not only influence from the margins in society, but who also face the huge challenge of influencing from the margins in their own homes.
Why do we need to tune in to our hearts for influence, and what exactly does that mean??
Verse 4 says “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.” Peter is challenging his audience to influence people for Christ, to attract people to Christ, not through external means, but rather to influence and attract them to Him because of the life that comes from within. To attract them (unbelieving husbands) but also to remember that this principle applies to everyone, to attract them by the adornment of a gentle and quiet spirit.
What is "letting my adorning be the hidden person of the heart, the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit?” Here are a few phrases I gleaned from several different commentaries about this passage - words/phrases like
In submission to the will of God
Not insistent on one's own rights
Not selfishly assertive
Not demanding one's own way
In contrast they used words/phrases like:
One commentary drew a connection between a gentle, quiet spirit and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22 – 23):
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.
Would you not agree that this kind of inner health and attractiveness is to describe both men and women in all of our relationships?
The ‘beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit’ is about being in a place of surrender to God so that He has permission to live His life through me without hindrance. To be so surrendered to Him that I don't get in the way of Him loving through me; that I don't get in the way of His fruit being seen in me. So surrendered that my pride, my selfishness, my vanity, my agenda, my "rights", my demands, my anger gets set aside so that Christ can be seen in me and others will be drawn to Him because I lift Him up with the way I live my life. Jesus calls us to let Him live His life through us so that the fragrance of His Spirit in us is beautiful, is attractive, is like adornment; HIS adornment.
I want to quickly ask, "How effective will I be in influencing someone (spouse, child, grandchild) for Christ if my inner person is (insert the opposite of what it should be) Even if I say and do the right things, if my heart isn't right, (pride, anger, unforgiveness), my influence will be compromised.
Take some time as a group to pray for heart health in our relationships where we want to make a spiritual impact. What do I need to repent of that could be hindering my witness?
Tune in for Influence!
Mark and Rhonda
This is a Christian marriage where the gospel has impacted both parties.
Notice the counter-cultural way the husband loves the wife- showing honour. In the first-century context such honour was typically unidirectional, flowing from those with lower status to those with higher status. Given this reality, the call for a husband to honour his wife would have struck a countercultural chord. Such behavior on the part of a husband toward his wife would have questioned the status systems that were assumed and defended in first-century Greco-Roman culture. Even further, the author states that for husbands to neglect this kind of behavior is to run the risk of their prayers being hindered (1 Pet 3:7). There are hints in this text of mutual submission that Paul talks about in Ephesians 5.
Note – “weaker vessel” - While in Hellenistic culture such weakness was taken as a description of a woman’s nature, moral and intellectual as well as physical, the point here is not to highlight women’s spiritual or moral weakness — 3 :1–2 counters such an idea — but rather their lesser social and physical capacity. In keeping with Christian tradition, that meant that they must be given the special consideration accorded those of lesser social and physical capacity, since they too are precious in God’s eyes.
(For further info, see The Church In Exile, Lee Beach)