Sunday, April 12, 2015

If they do not believe

1 Peter Chapters 2 and 3

How do you draw an unbelieving husband towards faith?

This is a question heavy on my heart, not only because it is an issue for many of my friends, but also because it was my concern for years. I came to faith and then waited 18 years for my husband to make a commitment to Christ. During that time, I read and re-read these words from Peter as if he had written them especially for me.

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

Note Peter does not recommend a straight-on Evangelical technique. He does not urge wives to share the four spiritual laws or the ABC’s of faith. Peter does not tell us to sign our husbands up for ALPHA or some other spiritual activity. I tried all those things with my husband Al with no immediate success. No, Peter’s advice is to love our husbands by submitting to them.

As we continue to read his letter, Peter is consistent, no matter who he is talking to:
  • Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives (1 Peter 3:7)
  • Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters (1 Peter 2:18)
  • Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors (1 Peter 2:13-14)
  • Be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil … repay evil with blessing (1 Peter 3:9)

Submit - be considerate - repay even evil with blessing. Why would Peter say that? What about when the husband is dead wrong? When he is doing something clearly hurtful to his wife or to his children? Surely we are to speak up then? He’s the one who’s the unbeliever! Hello?

No offense, ok, but why are we convinced we are always the one in the right and they are the one who needs to change? Honestly, I am talking to myself here as well. Why can’t we allow them to make their own choices (which they will anyway!) and choose to do right ourselves, no matter what they are doing?

Let me repeat: our response is our responsibility. Are there ways we can serve our man with integrity? Are there areas where we can defer to them and say “I don’t want to but because you want to, I will”? Can we put his needs before our needs? Can we forgive the hurts? Can we consider how he must feel? Can we stop judging him, repeatedly pointing where he is wrong?

Peter pulls out the trump card with the example of Jesus’ life.

Photo by Caroline Pierce
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps... When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.

Jesus was able to submit to the cross because He trusted God the Father to vindicate Him.
  • He did not trust His disciples to stand by Him – they did not.
  • He did not trust the religious leaders to give Him a fair trial – they did not.
  • He did not trust the Roman governor to see through the schemes of the Jewish leaders and release Him because He was innocent – he did not.
  • He did not trust the Roman soldiers to be gentle with Him because He was not rude to them – they did not.

EVERYONE did wrong to Jesus, and not just a little wrong. They betrayed Him, beat Him, spit on Him, mocked Him, and nailed Him to a tree.

Jesus submitted because He trusted God.

Peter invites us to do that too.

Sure, if there are people being hurt, there need to be boundaries. And sure, we are to use words to share the gospel…

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…

Love people by serving them with humbleness and kindness. Trust God because He’s got this. That is the bottom line. I think this works with not only husbands but also teens, co-workers, neighbors, and extended family members.

“He himself bore our sins” in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness… the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer…

How do we die to sin and live for righteousness? Submit to others. Even our husbands. Even when they can’t be trusted. Because we can trust God.

For how it turned out for me and my husband, click here.

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