Signs of Life at The Living Temple: Women, Slaves and Martyrs
1 Peter 2:11: “I urge you to abstain from the passions (lusts) of the flesh.” The lust of the flesh is to hold the breath, wrap the self in fig leaves, and die, forever alone... a vessel of wrath (Me-sus). The lust (passion) of the Spirit is communion. “In lust, I have lusted to eat this Passover with you,” said Jesus in Luke 22:14 on the night before he hung on the tree in the garden and delivered up his Spirit. The lust of the Spirit is communion with all of us (The Body of Jesus).
1 Peter 2:12: “...keeping your conduct among the unbelievers beautiful, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your beautiful deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” As we saw last time, wounds on the Body of Christ are open doors to the New Jerusalem coming down when, in the name of Jesus, we forgive. The “beautiful deeds” are ways in which we bleed the life, even as others take the life.
The beautiful deed is offering your ration of broken bread, even as your enemy steals that ration of broken bread from you, as Richard Wurmbrand repeatedly did while imprisoned in communist Romania.
1 Peter 2:13-3:7, Peter gives more examples of these “beautiful deeds.” Three times he uses the verb hupotasso, to subject, in reference to three groups of people.
#1) He tells everyone (That’s the first group.) to “be subject to human institutions”—for example, “the emperor.”
#2) He fleshes this out, writing, “house servants (slaves) being subject to your masters (‘despotes’ in Greek).” And,
#3) “Wives being subject to your husbands.”
“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” wrote Thomas Jefferson, “that all men are created equal with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. . . inalienable.” Peter seems to disagree with Thomas Jefferson—Jefferson, who led a rebellion against the emperor and owned hundreds of slaves, of whom one was his wife. And what Peter writes is certainly not “self-evident,”, considering the fact that the emperor in his day was named Nero, and he basically lived next door.
So, what is a “human institution,” a “principality and power of this age?” It is a bunch of souls bound together with legislation in a covenant of self-centeredness. It’s collective faith in “we-sus” (we are salvation), in order to save “me-sus” (“me” is salvation).
Human institutions are constructed using three tools: Promises to protect individual “rights,” threats to punish those that violate those “rights” (...of your constituents. No one can protect the “rights” of all until all agree), and Scapegoating.
In Leviticus, the High Priest was commanded to cast lots over two goats to determine which one would be the “sin offering” and which one would be “the scapegoat.” On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest was to then sacrifice the sin offering burning its body outside the camp but taking its blood behind the curtain in the Holy of Holies and sprinkling it on the Mercy Seat, the Throne of God. He was then told to confess “all the iniquities” of Israel upon the Scapegoat and then release it into the wilderness. It’s rather remarkable, for it means that none of the iniquities of Israel were actually atoned for with the sacrifice of the “sin offering (the goat, that is)” but all the iniquities of Israel were on the scapegoat in “Azazel.”
Well, to build a human institution, just make promises and threats, and find a scapegoat.
In Romania, the scapegoat was a group—Christians like Richard Wurmbrand. In 1990 I traveled to Romania and was surprised to discover that it wasn’t an army that overthrew the despot, Nicolae Ceausescu; it was worshipers. I think they were saying, “If Jesus is like Richard Wurmbrand, Lazlo Tokes, and Petru Dugulescu, then we love him too.”
1 Peter 2:16: “Live as people who are free... as slaves of God.”
In 1965, Dr. Robert Co
Signs of Life at the Living Temple (Beautiful Deeds?)
1 Peter 2:12 “...Keeping your conduct among the Gentiles (the unbelievers) beautiful, so that when they speak against you as wrongdoers, they may see your beautiful deeds and glorify (praise) God on the day of visitation.”
What deed might you do now that would make your critics burst into heartfelt praise on the Day of Judgment?
Maybe you could turn the other cheek, forgiving your enemies—not because you had to but because you wanted to; you could Love them unconditionally from a pure heart?
Wouldn’t it be good news for them to discover that the one standing on the throne and shining like the sun, looked a bit like you? But how will we come to love like Jesus? It seems utterly absurd; It’s just not how life works on our planet . . . we say.
Whenever Scripture seems absurd, I find it helpful to take it more literally. And by “literally,” I don’t mean materialistically or according to our modern concepts of space and time but according to the author’s original intent.
1 Peter 2:1 “Having been undressed of all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and slander...”
When were we dressed in all lies, hypocrisy, envy, and slander? We dressed ourselves in all lies after we took knowledge from the tree of the knowledge of Good and evil to justify ourselves—it was our choice; we often call it “growing up.”
When were we undressed of all lies? We were severed from our body of flesh, the work of our frightened ego, at the tree in the garden, where we are crucified with Christ—that’s not our choice; it’s his; it looks like death, but it’s the death of death, the beginning of life. That’s Good News for you can only enter the Kingdom as a child.
1 Peter 2:2 “As newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual [literally: logical] milk that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is kind. As you come to him, a living stone...”
It’s here that modern readers check out. For what is a living stone? And for that matter, what is Life?
Recently I was watching a TV show titled Life on Our Planet. One thing killed another thing, and Morgan Freeman—like the voice of God—said, “Competition, both within and between species, has always driven evolution.” And I got angry. I’m not saying this as a pastor but as a man who has been trained in the sciences and believes that the Universe is 13.8 billion years old and simultaneously 6 days old depending upon your frame of reference: Competition does NOT drive evolution; Life drives evolution. Competition explains death NOT Life.
What is Life? It’s a profound mystery and at least these three things and a fourth.
#1) Life is a choice, a judgment, a decision to sacrifice autonomy for community. One molecule sacrifices its autonomy for community with another, making a third, and so on. One cell miraculously stops competing and starts cooperating, sacrificing identity and receiving a greater identity. One body part loses itself to find itself (A chicken leg is most a chicken leg when it’s attached to a chicken). One part literally bleeds into the next part and, losing its life, it finds it. Life is a decision to sacrifice yourself. And we have a word for that decision; it’s “Love.” “In this is Love, not that we loved God, but he loved us...” and sacrificed. “The life (the breath) is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement (at-one-ment) upon the altar,” says the Lord. God talks as if, in the temple, he is taking individual “lives” and making One Life. From outside the body of that temple, that would look like death, but from inside the temple, it would be life itself. Life is not competition but cooperation in freedom; life is Love.
#2) Life is an organizing principle. Life is the Logic of Love, not chaos but logos. There’s a logic to sacrifice itself and a logic that binds all the sacrifices together. But this logic cannot simply be imposed from the outside; it must also rise from
Truth and the Anxious Liar
How to Rebuild the Temple & Love Your Neighbor
In 1967, the State of Israel captured Jerusalem and the Temple Mount upon which now sits the Dome of the Rock Shrine. In recent years efforts to build a third temple on the very same spot have only intensified.
One month ago, on October 7th, several thousand Hamas militants broke out of the Gaza Strip, massacred about 1400 Jews, and took 240 hostages. The militants would argue that Israel had already taken about 2.3 million Palestinians hostage and is now responsible for the death of thousands of children. They will also tell you that they are battling for their holy land—the rock under the dome of the Dome of the Rock Mosque.
Some people think that good theology and honest Bible study make no practical difference.
For me, this is a very personal and painful topic. At the beginning of 2005, I preached two messages from Matthew chapter 21. The first was titled “How to Enter Jerusalem.” In it, I simply recounted the history of Jerusalem, “City of Peace.” It’s easily the bloodiest history of any city on the face of the earth. I put up a chart of all the conquerors who have conquered the city and then noted that one conqueror was missing... although we Christians claim that he not only conquered the city but all things. “Perhaps we missed him,” I said, “because of the unusual way in which he conquered.” I then posed a question. “Could it be that we try to take the city, in the one way that our Lord refused to do so? Could it be that the crusader who truly conquers, does not do so by crucifying, but by being crucified for all—his bride?”
I then preached a sermon titled “The Holy Nation” and asked the question, “Who is Israel and who are the Jews?” In that message, I claimed to be a Jew. My Father is Yahweh. My mother is “the Jerusalem above.” My brother, husband, and head is Jesus, King of the Jews. His blood runs in my veins and I’ve been grafted into the family tree.
It turns out that some people didn’t like that. And they weren’t Moslems or Jews (at least not according to the definition of the state of Israel), but Christians. One of them sent out a circulating letter stating that I was an antisemite and that the blood of the Jews was on my hands. I discovered that there were not only two groups that were fighting over the temple mount but three: Jews, Moslems, and Christians—Christian Zionists that is. They usually have a map and think a stone temple needs to be built, so the antichrist can come, and they can get raptured, while the world suffers “the tribulation.”
It's strange because Jesus was pretty clear about that old stone temple, a new one that he would build, and a New Jerusalem that was already coming down.
The topic is personal and painful for that reason . . . and one other. Years ago, I was hit in the head and almost died. I was hit in the head, with a bat . . . by a Jew. . .
. . . a Jew, who was my best buddy in fourth grade and with whom I always played baseball against the side of his house and obviously stood too close to the batter on one occasion. What you just experienced is called a “Gestalt Shift.” The meaning of all the facts just changed.
This is all painful for me, not only because of angry Zionists or because I was hit in the head with a bat, but because David was my best friend as a kid. And so was Bradley—both neighbors and both Jews. If I’m antisemitic, I’m anti-me, the true me.
Perhaps this entire world needs a massive gestalt shift called “repentance.”
1 Peter 2, “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves as living stones are being built up as a spiritual house... ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the head (kephale) of the corner.’”
This is the “plan for the fulness of time” writes Paul, “to bring together under one head (anakephalaioo) all things in Christ Jesus.”
Eighteen years ago, I led a tour to Israel, and on
Family Values (the Adam’s)
“‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed . . . with blood.”
If you’re like me, those words jump out of our text for the day,, and in fear, you assume that you comprehend the meaning—something like: “If you call him ‘Father,’ be afraid, for if you don’t call him ‘Father,’ and are not holy as he is holy, then he’s not your father. And the only way that he could ever be your father is to make someone else bleed instead of you.”
It’s ironic, but most American Christians think that the Bible is all about “Family Values.” And so: 1) Your family should look like a Norman Rockwell painting, 2) we should be at war with anything that would threaten that picture, and 3) if we threaten that picture, we will be exiled and endlessly tortured for the sake of that picture. And so, most of the world thinks we are a terribly dysfunctional family, for we all sit at the table smiling on the outside while terrified on the inside, for we believe that our father has his finger on a red button connected to ejector seats that may fling us into the fiery furnace directly below. In other words, we smile and say, “God is Love,” while we actually believe he’s Dr. Evil.
Maybe we should fear God? He is all about “family values.” Let’s “focus on the family.”
Can you imagine Jesus interviewed on Focus on the Family Radio (“If anyone does not come to me and hate his own father...”)? Jesus had some strange family values and when he focused on the family, it always seemed to be the wrong family.
The Bible is all about family, but it’s hard to find any family in the Bible that looks like a Norman Rockwell painting: Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, and Seth. How about Abraham, his two wives, and two sons: Isaac, and Ishmael? Or...Isaac, Jacob (Israel), and Esau? Or... Jacob, his four wives, and twelve sons? Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—and especially David—would be the last of all fathers to be interviewed on Focus on the Family Radio. And yet God identifies himself as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” And he identifies David as “the man after his own heart.” Did he see something in them that he saw in himself?
It's fascinating but none of those men gave up on any of their sons. And the sons are all united in the death of the father (Genesis 25:9, 35:29, 50:13). Even the sons of David will be reunited in the death of the Son of David, from the bosom of the Father, the Promised Seed, the “Last (eschatos) Adam.”
According to Oscar Cullmann, all of history takes the shape of an hourglass on its side. In the beginning, humanity was blown apart at a tree in a garden. Then God began dealing with nations, then tribes, then families, and then a “root” that is the Promised Seed. At a tree in a garden, we all took his Life and he gave his Life (The Life is in the blood). His twelve disciples formed a new family, then all the tribes came together at Pentecost, and the nations came together at the house of Cornelius. In the End, there is a tree in a garden and “its leaves are for the healing of the nations.” It is the Tree of Life and the revelation of the Good.
“As in Adam all die so in Christ will all be made alive...” wrote Paul. “The first Adam became a living soul; that last Adam became a life-giving Spirit... This perishable nature must put on the imperishable.” “The Adam” is humanity, and the Adam is Jesus, and we are the Adam’s Family. What if we read the Bible with the Adam’s family values, rather than our own traditional American family values?
In 1:13-16 Peter calls for a paradigm shift for God has said: “You will be holy as I am holy.” That’s not simply a wish or a command. It’s a statement of fact. It’s the judgment of God, the Creator. And what is the Holiness of God? It is
The Perfect Storm
I’m listening to the series on Revelation. Simply delightful. So good. What a wonderful and mysterious King we have. Thank you, Pastor Peter, for these sermons.
Love the messages i have heard but won't download want to listen when I have no wi fi