Day 18 | A Community Of Civic Benefaction

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”
1 Peter 2:13-15 ESV

Our Student Ministry has been going through 1 Peter this month and Pastor Brett Long has been encouraging our middle schoolers and high schoolers to read the book of 1 Peter each week. It’s been so great going through our own “hungry” series through the book of 1 Peter! As I was considering our community asking God for hunger to make a difference, I found myself at this section in chapter two.

This is probably a shocking sentence or two for most of us. The first readers of Peter’s letter were probably shocked to hear this as well! These churches in the Roman province of Asia Minor were powerless and socially ostracized. They were suffering under immense oppression and yet, here is Peter, instructing them to turn and face the Roman Empire with not just love, grace, and peace but even civic benefaction – “doing good”.

Theologian and author Scot McKnight writes, “Peter envisions a community of faith that creates opportunity for atonement by living a gospel life that is itself atoning. The fellowship of the Christians created a community wherein true justice was worked out, wherein healthy, loving relationships were the norm, and wherein response to the society was one of benefaction and compassion.”

Even in a moment when they were experiencing such persecution and oppression, they were still called to be a community that fully lives out a gospel life. That though they experienced injustice, they were supposed to be people who brought about true justice. Where they saw social ostracization, they were to cultivate loving relationships. Where they experienced the negatives of culture, they were to be the ones bringing good to their society and bringing compassion to their neighborhoods.

I believe Peter’s vision for the community of faith still applies today. If we truly believe in the atoning work of Christ, it ought to reflect how we live out our gospel life every single day. We ought to be asking God how he wants us to do good in our neighborhoods. How does God want us to be people who bring about true justice? In what ways does the Lord desire we reflect healthy, loving relationships? How will we be an atoning community that brings benefaction and compassion?

Ask God to align you with Peter’s vision for the church today. Look for a way you can bring good and compassion to your neighborhood or city. And maybe, read 1 Peter with our student ministry this week. I think you’ll be encouraged by the whole letter!

Lydia Long
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