1 Peter 3:8
We live our Christian lives under intense scrutiny. 1:12 – angels, 3:12, the Lord; 2:12 the world.
What astonishes the angels, delights God, and convicts the world, more than almost anything else? To see the followers of Jesus Christ living in harmony with one another.
Five qualities. Apple pie & fatherhood?
This is addressed to ‘all of you’.
‘Like-mindedness’. Unity of thought, purpose and action.
It is a unity in diversity. Peter has just spoke about rulers and subjects, slaves and masters, husbands and wives.
The Master Carpenter’s tools are holding a meeting. Harry Hammer leads the meeting, but several suggest he leave because he is so noisy. Mk Hammer replies, ‘If I have to leave this workshop, Sarah Screw must leave also. You have to turn her round and round to get her to do anything useful.’ Sarah Screw then speaks up: ‘If you wish, I will leave. But Percy Plane must leave too. All his work is on the surface. His efforts have no depth.’ To this, Percy Plane responds, ‘Rachel Ruler will also have to withdraw, for she is always measuring folks as though she were the only one who is right.’ Rachel Ruler then complains about Sammy Sandpaper: ‘He ought to leave, too, because he’s so rough and is always rubbing people up the wrong way.’ In the middle of all this discussion, in walks the Carpenter of Nazareth. He has arrived to start his day’s work. Putting on his apron, he goes to the bench and uses Harry Hammer, Sarah Screw, Percy Plane, Rachel Ruler, Sammy Sandpaper, and all the other tools. After the day’s work, Simon Saw stands up and remarks: ‘Brothers and sisters, I observe that all of us are workers together with the Lord.’
The Trinity is the ultimate model of unity in diversity. Jesus prayed, ‘…that all of them may be one, Father, just as we are one.’ Jn 17
Cf. Empathy. Not merely feeling sorry for the other person. Rom 12:15 – ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep’.
Heb 4:15 – ‘We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.’
3. Brotherly love
This is not mere comradeship. It is not based on similarity of age, gender, social class, hobbies, education. It is that family love that comes from knowing that we are children of the same heavenly Father, and brothers and sisters in Christ. See 1:22f.
The world is watching: Jn 13:35 – “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Conveys strong emotion. ‘Gut feeling’. Cf. Mk 1:41 – ‘filled with compassion/anger’.
This is a God-like, Christ-like quality, as Paul explains in Eph 4:32 – ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’
The humble person is neither a shrinking violet nor a doormat. An attitude of not thinking too highly of ourselves (Rom 12:3) and of putting the persons and needs of others before our own.
Jn 13:13,15 – “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, you Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
If we are to live with this kind of togetherness we need to:-
(i) Know ourselves. Peter, Mt 26:33 – an acute lack of humility when he said, “even if everyone else forsakes you, I never will,” Mt 26:33. An absence of sympathy when he chose not to suffer with his Lord, but rather to go AWOL at the critical moment.
I saw them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a dusty town.
With ‘yo heave ho’ and a lusty yell,
They swung a beam and the side wall fell.
I asked the foreman if these men were skilled
As the men he’d hire, if he were to build.
He laughed and said, ‘Oh, no indeed.
Common labour is all I need.’
For those men can wreck in a day or two,
What builders had taken years to do.
I asked myself as I went my way,
Which kind of role am I to play?
Am I the builder who works with care,
Measuring life by the rule and square?
Or am I the wrecker who walks the town,
Content with the role of tearing down?
Sibbes: ‘It would be a good contest amongst Christians, one to labour to give no offence, and the other to labour to take none.’
(ii) Know one another. These qualities presuppose that we will have meaningful relationships with one another.
A family that never meets together may have little conflict, but it will also have little togetherness.
Heb 10:25 – ‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.’
Why do we meet? Edification, 1 Cor 14; Eph 4; 1 Thess 5:11 (‘encourage one another and build each other up’).
Take a look at the people around you, and ponder the following words of Geoffrey Paul: ‘there is no way of belonging to Christ except by belonging gladly and irrevocably to that marvellous and extraordinary ragbag of saints and fatheads who make up the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.’
(iii) Know Christ. He urges togetherness by his teaching and models it by his example. He empowers it by his saving work, for ‘God in his great mercy has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,’ 1:3.
Togetherness lies at the heart of the Godhead – 1:2 – ‘chosen by the Father, made holy by the Spirit, purified by the blood of the Son.’
‘Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.’ And you will give astonishment to the angels, delight to your God, and conviction to a watching world.