by Pastor Adekoya Akinbode
THE BLESSEDNESS OF CHRISTIAN/GODLY VIRTUES
Apostle Peter has been encouraging the believers in Christ and admonishing us on how to respond to the various challenges, the maltreatments and what have you we may encounter in this our earthly pilgrimage. We are schooled, carefully studying this first Epistle of Peter on how to respond to our various circumstances, environments and the different people we might possibly encounter, particularly the people of the world. The way they perceive us and the way they treat us. We have been told who we are in Christ so as not to ever mistake our identity for who or what the world or our present situation or immediate environment calls us. We are the elect of God: elected by the father, cleansed by the blood of the Son and sanctified by the Holy Ghost. We are God’s precious possession on earth. A chosen generation, royal priesthood, made holy, showing for the praise of God as we continue to hope for the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As believers in Christ, we have a calling or a mandate to manifest and to demonstrate who we are in Christ and who Christ is to us in the world and to the world respectively. We manifest or live as who we are in Christ in this present world and we demonstrate who Christ is to us to the people of the world. If we understand this, then we understand the message of Peter in this Epistle.
Will live as of the Lord and as from the Lord. As of the Lord in holy living and righteous dealings among others. We live as from the Lord in all submissiveness, love, compassion and godly characters in the world or to the world.
In the previous chapter, we, among others, see how we are expected to respond to the various authorities or leaders in our lives, knowing that all authorities are of God and from God. In this chapter the emphasis in the context of submitting to authorities is concerning the institution of marriage. God has two major institutions on Earth: the Church and the Family. Through these two major institutions God wishes to manifest His glory, His presence and His power in/to the world. Marriage therefore is a sacred institution of God that must be built on godly pattern and principles if it must enjoy or manifest the glory and the beauty ordained of God.
While being of different faiths or religion might be a major issue in the marital context between husband and wife, which if not well managed can even lead to divorce due to divergent views, opinions and beliefs. Especially when one will not succumb or submit to the other’s. The women of old had several questions as soon as they received Christ whether or not to leave their husbands. Peter is writing here to encourage Christian women to rather live in submission to their husbands, just as Christians generally are to submit to governmental authorities. Especially when we are not being compelled to do that which is evil against God. That is what I call the 419 clause on submission to authority. (Acts 4:19)
For as long as you are not under any authority that wants you to do that which is against God, without being hypocritical, you are mandated to obey and honour such authority even when what you’re asked to do might be against your own will. That’s where the problem lies!
When it comes to submission, it is not about doing what you like but what you are supposed to do. That is why submission is a virtue! God is a God of ranks and hierarchy and He does not break ranks.
Submission we know, in its original Greek rendition, has a military root. In the military, you obey and honour the command of your superior just for the sake of not breaking ranks and of course, to avoid being punished or dismissed. It is the same pattern in the body of Christ, as militarily adopted. As Christ submitted His human will to do the will of the Father, the Church must submit and go all the way to do the will of her Husband — Jesus Christ. The man submits to the authority of Christ, the same way the wife is to submit her will to the will of her own husband. The husband is the Christ figure to the woman. Not because the man is morally perfect but as ordained by God.
Submission actually entails going out of your way to do or carry out the will of another. The question and the dilemma here is that, should a Christian woman submit to the authority of an unbelieving husband?
Going by the writings of Peter, this is not a subject of debate but rather a calling to go by the mandate, the principles and the standard of God in the marital circle. That is why Peter, I believe, consciously makes use of the words ‘holy women’ in reference to those of old known to be subject or submissive to their husbands. It takes a godly or holy woman to submit to her husband in honour of Christ. Yet, not a sulking style of submission but a submission that defines true honour and obedience as unto the Lord.
In addressing how the husband lives with his wife, Peter wants all husbands to know that there’s always the feminine part and nature to every woman no matter how holy or godly and the way to respond is with understanding and love. Understanding of their weakness in the flesh, though fellow heirs in Christ and therefore be treated with such honour (care-fulness, cautiousness) any delicate vessel deserves.
Yes, the concept of submission as instituted by God has always been at loggerheads with the feminists ideology since time immemorial. That is why Peter consciously, again, I believe, used the women of old as examples for wives to be submissive to their husbands. Male and female are equal sharers of God’s grace but the woman is taken out of man. Hence, submission to a man is the mark of a godly woman while love is the mandatory response of a man to his wife.
There is always the natural propensity in every woman to be feminist or to act as one. That’s the difference between a woman and a wife. Ever wondered why women “change” when they get married?
The femine nature in/of women calls for understanding and love from their husbands. So, godly women submit to their husbands even as wives, and godly husbands love their wives, living with them with understanding. This is how to manifest Christ and demonstrate Christ through the institution of marriage between a man and a woman in Christ Jesus.
As Jesus Himself said, we cannot claim to love Him and ignore or neglect His command. There is no better way to show that we are of Christ than to demonstrate Christ’s love to us and our love for Christ to those around us. Still referring to the subject of submission in the marital context, a woman cannot absolutely claim to be under the authority of Christ and yet neglect the injunction to be submissive to her husband. Again, while submission does not make a woman less or lesser, loving your wife as well, irrespective of her flaws does not make a man a dummy. It is demonstrating a godly virtue that brings about the blessedness and the blessings of God in marriage.
Also, the relationship between us as Brothers and Sisters in Christ should be of love and compassion, one towards another. Not always seeking our own but in meekness and oneness embrace the verdict of Christ on every issue, especially such that could birth disunity. Just as we are not to respond in an unchristian way to those that wrong us in the world, this should be particularly so amongst us as fellow believers. Not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing but contrariwise blessing knowing that ye are thereunto called that you should inherit a blessing.
We are to seek peace and ensure it. Peter maintains that it is better to suffer for righteousness sake than to suffer as evil doers. Still pointing us to Christ, Who suffered unjustly so as to bring us who were unjust to God through His death and Resurrection but the Spirit. Through His suffering which led to His death, He practically and legally had access to the regions below where He established and declared His victory over the spirits in prison (who were believed to be the demon spirits on rampage during Noah’s time) and afterwards resurrected. Now, He is seated at the right hand of God with all things subject to Him.
This example of Christ again is to encourage us that there is always a blessing attached to be found innocent and just, even when we are sometimes being treated unjustly. There is always a blessing to being godly even when we are being treated otherwise. This will sometimes look like we’re being disadvantaged but put in proper contexts, it is exhibiting Christ’s nature; the Christian virtues with blessing attached!