“Living As Elect Exiles - Despising the Shame”

Categories: Monday Morning Meditation

Despising the Shame

Sunday morning we continued our God's Great Book series by overviewing 1 Peter. Peter addresses his audience as "elect exiles" (1 Pet. 1:1) which speaks to their social disjunction as much as their spatial dislocation. They were a group of people who, because of their decision to follow Christ, found themselves as strangers and aliens in this world, on the outside looking in in their former communities. Thus Peter wrote primarily to strengthen his reader's resolve to live right-side-up in an upside-down world. For our part, we pulled out five exhortations to help us live out our identity as elect exiles. We must 1) Live into in order to live out our new identity 2) Seek sanctuary among the sanctified 3) Decide to suffer honorably 4) Entrust ourselves to the just judge and faithful Creator 5) Anxiously anticipate the apocalypse of glory. I'd like to add a 6th exhortation to help us navigate our walk in this life. We must, "despise the shame." This idea comes from Jesus' own example of dealing with the shaming of the world. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, 

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

In despising the shame which Jesus experienced in the forms of slander, arrest, beating, spitting, and ultimatley crucifixion, etc. Jesus did not treasure it up or hold it near to his heart. He was able to reject it and let it go entirely. 

In 1 Peter, Peter encourages the believers to do four things that will help them “despise the shame” of the world:

1) Reinterpret Shame in a Positive Light: The shaming of the believer by the non-believer while unideal, is not all bad. In fact, we actually have reason to rejoice because we know that enduring suffering and shame will strengthen our faith and glorify God. In this way, the shame we receive becomes an opportunity for refinement rather than an obstacle to reject – 1 Peter 1.6-7; 2.12; 4.13

2) Recognize Your True Honor: Though the world may shame you for being a Christian, you are honored by God. His is the most important court of opinion. Consider the honor God bestows upon His people. When the world calls us strange, bigoted, prudish, peculiar, weirdos, God calls us elect/chosen, living stones, a spiritual house, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, and the rightful objects of His mercy. When the world says you have little to no value, God reminds us of the great lengths He has gone to bless us and the price of Christ's perfect and precious blood that He paid to redeem us. – 1 Peter 1.1-2; 3-5; 18-19; 23; 2.5; 7; 9-10; 4.14

3) Remember that You’re Not Alone: The shame and suffering that we face as believers should not be surprising to us since Christ also suffered. In this, we are partakers with Him. We find solidarity with Christ and with one another. Knowing that we are not alone in our plight can be greatly comforting. Let us commiserate together, weeping with thus who weep and in so doing we will find abundant reasons for rejoicing.  – 1 Peter 4.12; 1.11; 2.21; 3.17-18; 4.1; 13; 5.9

4) Realize That God Cares: Conventional wisdom proposes that if God allows you to suffer, He does not esteem you. Peter encourages just the opposite. Peter suggests that God sees us, God hears us, He knows what we are going through and He cares deeply about our struggles. Instead of wondering, "why has God left me here to suffer?" let us ask, "how is God using this trial to bring me into deeper dependence and closer relationship with Him?"  – 1 Peter 3.12; 5.7

Attribution Disclaimer: This material is adapted from a thematic outline I made of 1 Peter about 5  years ago which itself informed by the work of David deSilva. For a great look at the cultural matrix behind the New Testament see deSilva's "Honor, Patronage, Kinship, & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture."