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Jul 19, 2020

Strange Deference

Strange Deference

Passage: 1 Peter 2:13-25

Speaker: Patrick Lafferty

Series: Strange Faith

Keywords: freedom, submission, suffering, glory

When you believe that Jesus is Lord of the whole universe, how does that affect the way we think of what else has kinds of authority?

7.19.20 GMR Online Service from Graceworks Media on Vimeo.

Patrick & Andrew will host a special Q&A session on Sunday, July 19, 12-12:45pm, related to the themes that are discussed in this week's passage (1 Peter 2:13-25). After you listen to the worship service on Sunday morning, you are invited to join the Zoom call and bring your related questions.

If you have an interest but know you can't be on the live Zoom call,  email us with questions the text (1 Peter 2:13-25) raises for you to .

Join the Zoom session

Order of Worship

CALL TO WORSHIP: Philippians 2:5-11
Confession of Sin: (St. Ambrose of Milan)
Assurance of Pardon: Romans 5:1
OT READING: Proverbs 16:10-15, 29:2
CENTRAL TEXT: 1 Peter 2:13-25 ESV
MESSAGE: Strange Deference
BENEDICTION: Romans 15:5-6 ESV

Children's Lesson

Readings & Lyrics

CALL TO WORSHIP: Philippians 2:5-11
LEADER: 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

ALL: 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Confession of Sin: (St. Ambrose of Milan)
ALL: O Lord, who hast mercy upon all. Take away my sins, and mercifully work in me a daily renewal by your Spirit. Taking away my heart of stone, and giving me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore Thee, a heart to delight in Thee, to follow and to enjoy Thee, for Christ's sake.

Assurance of Pardon: Romans 5:1
LEADER: Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

OT READING: Proverbs 16:10-15, 29:2
16:10 An oracle is on the lips of a king;
his mouth does not sin in judgment.
11 A just balance and scales are the LORD’s;
all the weights in the bag are his work.
12 It is an abomination to kings to do evil,
for the throne is established by righteousness.
13 Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
and he loves him who speaks what is right.
14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
and a wise man will appease it.
15 In the light of a king’s face there is life,
and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.

29:2 When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
but when the wicked rule, the people groan.

CENTRAL TEXT: 1 Peter 2:13-25 ESV
13Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

BENEDICTION: Romans 15:5-6 ESV
5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.


  • Matthew 6:8-10
  • Mark 10:35-45
  • Acts 16:19-35
  • 1 Corinthians 7:17-24
  • Philemon (in total)


  1. Which is your more natural inclination--to submit to authority or to be suspicious of it? Why? What experiences or observations have led to that preference? Have you ever been a person of authority? What was it and what was it like?
  2. Why might belief in Jesus’s ultimate authority require Peter to discuss how that affects their relationship to other authorities?
  3. Listen to Peter’s guidance for deference to human authorities here (vv. 13-17), and then also Paul’s similar guidance in Romans 13:1-7. Now consider Peter’s story in Acts 5, with particular attention to his words in 5:23. Then also Paul’s experience in Acts 16:16-40, with particular attention to what Paul says in Acts 16:37. What might we infer from all those words together in the sense of overall guidance for our response to human authorities?
  4. How do Peter’s words to slaves in vv 18-25 line up with what Paul tells slaves in 1 Corinthians 7:17-24? How might the fact that slaves had no “court” to appeal for any kind of redress explain why Peter might give the guidance he did?
  5. How might a then slave’s response to an unjust master be a picture of what all Christians are called to in the face of any injustice or oppression?
  6. How does Peter justify his call for slaves to endure unjust suffering? (vv. 21-25). How is that both a justification and an encouragement?
  7. Even with Peter accepting slavery in that day as an ancient and deeply embedded institution, how might the gospel have been a set, but delayed fuse for its end? What do we know about the gospel and its implications that would make it incompatible with slavery?



  • The liberal idea that if people are free, they’ll be kind seemed to me ridiculously wrong. . . . As Western power retreats, we’ve come to realise that these values that [we] had assumed were universal – human rights, the inherent dignity of Man, the obligation of the rich to the poor – are actually very culturally contingent. Our assumption that there are universal values is itself very culturally contingent – and specifically Christian, I think. I can find no basis for believing in any of this stuff at all that does not involve a conscious leap of faith. - Tom Holland, author of Dominion
  • A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to every one. - Martin Luther
  • One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all." Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • . . .if I respond to hate with a reciprocal hate, I do nothing but intensify the cleavage in broken community. I can only close the gap... by meeting hate with love. - Martin Luther King, Jr
  • Evil will become powerless when it finds no opposing object, no resistance, but instead, is willingly borne and suffered. Evil meets an opponent for which it is not a match.  - Dietrich Bønhoëffer
  • Whosoever debases others debases himself. - James Baldwin
  • At the heart of the cross is Christ’s stance of not letting the other remain an enemy and of creating space in himself for the offender to come in. - Miroslav Volf
  • “I got me slaves and slave-girls.” What do you mean? You condemn man to slavery, when his nature is free and possesses free will, and you legislate in competition with God, overturning his law for the human species. The one made on the specific terms that he should be the owner of the earth, and appointed to government by the Creator – him you bring under the yoke of slavery, as though defying and fighting against the divine decree. - Gregory of Nyssa, Homilies on Ecclesiastes
  • “I got me slaves and slave-girls.” For what price, tell me? What did you find in existence worth as much as this human nature? What price did you put on rationality? How many obols did you reckon the equivalent of the likeness of God? How many staters did you get for selling the being shaped by God? God said, Let us make man in our own image and likeness (Gen 1,26). If he is in the likeness of God, and rules the whole earth, and has been granted authority over everything on earth from God, who is his buyer, tell me? who is his seller? - Gregory of Nyssa, Homilies on Ecclesiastes
  • Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible, which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America! - Frederick Douglass
  • Deeply rooted in our religious heritage is the conviction that every man is an heir to a legacy of dignity and worth. Our Judeo-Christian tradition refers to this inherent dignity of man in the Biblical term “the image of God.” - Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice. The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner. - The demon called “Wormwood” in C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters
  • The worldwide Anglican Communion was the religious by-product of British imperial expansion. The church may like to tell the story of William Wilberforce and its part in the struggle against slavery. But many of its clergy owned slaves, and one of its largest mission agencies was funded for over a century by a slave plantation in Barbados …So why do I say that this shameful past is something that I have “appreciated” about being a priest in the Church of England? It was a hard word to pick. But Christianity is fundamentally the story of redemption. That is what is so appealing about it to a sinner like me. And redemption doesn’t work by pretending we have a beautiful past. - Giles Fraser
  • Why become virtuous? So that you can bear the suffering of life without becoming corrupt. - Jordan Peterson
  • Now it is not sufficient for anyone, and does him no good to recognize God in his glory and majesty, unless he recognizes him in the shame and humility of the cross. In other words, it’s dangerous to try and relate to God as beautiful, majestic, and glorious before you relate to him as crucified. It’s dangerous because there is no reason to suppose that a majestic God would be a friend to sinners such as us. The ancients (quite reasonably) imagined that their gods loved only the noble, well-born, and pious; this is the exact opposite of good news for those of us who don’t measure up. - Martin Luther
  • . . .Christians in the latter decades of the twentieth century focused on politics as the best way to enact cultural change, dedicating much time, energy, and money toward that end. It’s not clear, however, that cultural change works the way those Christians assumed it did. Too often, they prioritized politics to the neglect of other formative cultural institutions and the callings of everyday Christians to engage in those institutions. - Kristen Deede Johnson, Uncommon Ground