Life in the Margins

Life in the Margins

For much of the past century, America has lived under the banner of Christendom among a culture in which Christianity prevailed. From politics to morality to the public square, the Christian story was known and exceedingly influential. However, following the path of our European forefathers, we are living in an increasingly post-Christian age. Rather than finding ourselves as followers of Jesus at the center of culture, in the places of power, or at the center of society, we find ourselves trying to figure out how to live life in the margins. In a world where the Bible is not known, Jesus is not believed, and our status is far from privileged, our reality has changed and so should our questions. How do you live in the margins, not at the center? As minority, not majority? As a sojourner, not a settler? Among plurality, not privilege? As a movement, not an institution?

Thankfully, this is not new territory for the church. In fact, it’s an ancient environment that served as fertile ground for the rapid expansion of the early church. And, letters like 1 Peter, written to the elect exiles of Asia Minor, strike a new chord with refreshing relevance. Learning from the saints who have gone before, we are reminded that life in the margins is not a curse but a blessing filled with new Kingdom opportunity. As we take the posture of pilgrims and sojourners in exile, the gospel can not only survive but thrive for God’s glory and the good of our city. Life in the margins can be a beautiful thing.

"Renewal from Nehemiah" Nehemiah 8 (Guest Speaker)

Nehemiah came to Jerusalem to seek the welfare of the people, and – with the wall building now finished – he turns his attention to the spiritual state of the people of God. After an intense season of serving and working together, they’re in need of personal and corporate renewal. So the people call on Ezra, the priest, to open up God’s word and feed their weary souls. As Ezra reads, we learn what sort of posture we must embrace to experience the kind of ongoing renewal we need to persevere in a life of service.

“Humility in the Margins" 1 Peter 5:5-14 (Life in the Margins)

As we finish up the book of 1 Peter, he ends on the topic of humility, a topic which has definitely been “pushed out to the margins of our civilization” in a day and age where looking out for oneself above others is expected and almost even encouraged, in a day where anxiousness and worry looms, Peter call to us is to, “humble ourselves beneath the mighty hand of God, and to cast our anxiety upon the one who not only can change it, but who also is the one who cares for us”. Sunday we are going to explore why Peter makes humility his closing point, and how we can, “cloth ourselves in humility”. Looking forward to this!

“Church Leadership in the Margins” 1 Peter 5:1-4 (Life in the Margins)

We’re getting towards the end of First Peter. We have spent weeks learning how the Apostle Peter encouraged and exhorted the churches in his care to not only survive in a harsh environment, but to thrive in the new identities they have in Christ.  He now turns his attention to the Elders of these church communities, and sets his sights on the heart and motivations that need to drive Elders to shepherd the people in their care towards the good shepherd.

"Suffering" 1 Peter 4:12-19 (Life in the Margins)

We return again to the subject of suffering, one of Peter’s favorite topics.  Specifically, suffering for the choice to follow Jesus.  What has the choice to follow Him cost you?  What could it cost you?  If you don’t follow Jesus but chose to, what would it cost you?  Is it worth it?  These and other questions will be at the heart of our time together and it is my hope that we will see the truth and beauty inherent in suffering for Him.

"Armed for the Margins" 1 Peter 4:1-11 (Life in the Margins)

In order to live a life of suffering for Jesus in margins, Peter calls all believers to arms. However, instead of arming ourselves with the weapons of the world, Peter calls the Christ follower to be armed with the mindset of Jesus. Following Jesus' lead, this results in a commitment to the Father's will in terms of our passions, pressures, and priorities. The single-minded focus of Jesus serves as our guide through suffering and every uncertain situation.

"Vindication in the Margins" 1 Peter 3:18-3:22 (Life in the Margins)

As Peter continues exploring the Christian life of suffering, he attempts to answer the question, "Is Suffering Worth It?" By weaving together 3 very different yet related stories, his answer is a resounding yes. By looking to Jesus on the cross, Noah and the ark, and a believer's experience of baptism, Peter explains why it is better to suffer for doing good and re-frames our daily struggle through gospel eyes. So often our lens is too short and our scorecard is too material.

"Suffering for doing Good" 1 Peter 3:8-17 (Life in the Margins)

After speaking specifically to wives and husbands, Peter now address all of us with gospel implications of how we should respond when we suffer for doing good.   In the immediate context of this passage, Peter twice points to the example of Christ as one who suffered for the sake of righteousness (chapters 2:21 & 3:18). As we consider Christ’s example of suffering, what things come to mind?  How might His example inform our response to the gospel as people who may increasingly find ourselves in the margins?

"Marriage in the Margins - Men" 1 Peter 3:7 (Life in the Margins)

After addressing the realms of government and the workplace, Peter turns toward the home in 1 Peter 3 to address the practicalities of the gospel in marriage. This week we will focus on Peter's words to husbands in verse 7 after having addressed the wives in verses 1-6. Although he only spends time on one verse, Peter has so much to say to guide a husband into a life of loving pursuit, honor, service, and sacrificial leadership like Jesus. This kind of cross-shaped marriage creates a home where a wife can flourish and the gospel is put on display.

"Marriage in the Margins - Women" 1 Peter 3:1-6 (Life in the Margins)

After addressing the realms of government and the workplace, Peter turns toward the home in 1 Peter 3 to address the practicalities of the gospel in marriage. This week we will focus on Peter's words to the women in verses 1-6, and next week we will focus on his admonition to the men in verse 7. Remaining consistent in his call for submission, Peter offers very specific insight and instruction for any wife to apply toward her husband. God's heart is revealed and the kingdom is advanced when a woman is marked by respect, true beauty, and fearlessness. This counter-cultural approach is not only effective for the Kingdom, but is precious in the sight of God.

"Submission in the Margins" 1 Peter 2:13-17 (Life in the Margins)

As Peter begins to unpack the specific applications of His word pictures from Ch. 1 and 2, the first place he turns is to the realm of society, government, and culture at large. How does a Christian live for Jesus in the margins among a pagan empire and leadership? His answer, although simple, gets at the heart of greatness in the Kingdom of God. It involves being a servant in attitude and action. This week we will talk about what it looks like to serve with a heart of submission and honor toward those who seem not to deserve it.

"Transformations in the Margins" 1 Peter 2:9-12 (Life in the Margins)

The churches the Apostle Peter was writing to were living in the midst of very real circumstances that were shaping their lives.  They were marginalized for their way of life and exclusive allegiance to Jesus.  They were different, which equates them to being suspect, irrelevant and people to be avoided.  But Peter’s vision for them is more than survival in the margins.  He wants their imaginations to be shaped by their true identity and calling, better and more significant than what their immediate circumstances are telling them.  He wants their imaginations to be shaped by the real story that they’re playing a role in.  And to do so, Peter uses imagery that calls the hearers into their communal identity that has purposes that are rooted in God’s redemptive plan for the world.  

We have to know who we are and who we belong to before we get to the “doing,” or else we spend our lives trying to define who we are by what we do or don’t do.  Lets come together this Sunday and let Peter’s words help us reimagine the significance of who we are as a church and the life we get to live in response.

"A Metaphor for the Margins" 1 Peter 2:4-8 (Life in the Margins)

In order to inspire and instruct God's people as elect exiles, Peter relies on a most unusual and unconventional metaphor: a rock. Drawing on a variety of stone images, Peter (which means "rock") strings together a revolutionary series of metaphors to carry us beyond the status quo and into our divine calling. His message reveals the scandal of the Spiritual House, the scandal of the Living Stones, and the scandal of the Cornerstone. This rock imagery- and a functional theology of "rocks"- is essential to basic Christianity and leaves us all with decisions to make.

"Resurrection Matters" 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (Easter 2016)

1 Corinthians 15:54-57
“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

"Love in the Margins" 1 Peter 1:21-2:3 (Life in the Margins)

We are living in a day and age marked by the rise of extremism at home and abroad. There is extreme fear, extreme anger, and extreme reactions to the extreme. And yet, as followers of Jesus, if there is to be any extremism that marks our life, may it be in extreme love. As Peter continues to exhort the "elect exiles" in his letter, he calls for them to love in specific and tangible ways. This week we will explore the kind of love that Jesus had in mind for His followers from the beginning. It's the kind of love that stands as counter-cultural in any age.


"Live as Those Ransomed" 1 Peter 1:13-21 (Life in the Margins

We all constantly hope for something. Maybe we hope that it won’t rain, maybe we hope for this difficulty to pass, maybe we hope the lines at Costco aren’t too long, but the fact is that we all hope for something. Now as we continue on in the book of 1st Peter, Peter has been talking a lot about our hope. But he has not been talking about us hoping in Jesus, like we hope the weatherman is right. Rather the hope that we have is sure! We have complete hope – we know that God is going to do what he has promised because our hope is based on the unswerving unchanging God, and a hope like this changes how we live. So this week we will see that in this passage Peter transitions from talking about the glorious hope and salvation that we have to beginning to look at what the implications are. What we hope in changes how we live! We are made to find hope, we are made to place our hope in something, but what we hope in determines what we do with our minds, our actions, and our attitude. Where do you place your hope? Where does your mind turn when things go bad? When your mind/heart is on autopilot, where does it turn?

"Appreciation in the Margins" 1 Peter 1:10-12 (Life in the Margins

As Peter continues to frame our understanding of suffering, he underscores our privileged position as believers this side of the cross. While those who follow Jesus may be subject to difficulty and trial as elect exiles, Peter reminds us that the times we live in are actually the "good old days." We have it better than the prophets who struggled to inquire about the person and time of the Messiah, and we have it better than the angels who long to peer into the mystery of our salvation. What we have in Jesus and what we know in the gospel is a supernatural treasure that changes our approach to the everyday.

"Suffering in the Margins" 1 Peter 1:6-9 (Life in the Margins)

A key distinctive in the letter of 1 Peter and life in the margins is suffering. As Jesus said in John 16:33, "In this world you will have tribulation." This week we will take a look at the Christian life of suffering and discover why it is a gift from God that is to be embraced. Without purpose, it can seem like endless torture. It's the "gift" that no one wants. However, in perspective, suffering remains one of God's most effective tools to form our souls. This is the beautiful reality that Paul called "the fellowship of His suffering" and it leads us into an intimacy with Jesus that nothing else will.

"Inspiration in the Margins" 1 Peter 1:3-5 (Life in the Margins)

Why?  This is the question implicitly answered by Peter in the verses we’ll focus on this week.  The “why” is Peter’s inspiration; the reason he does what he does and lives to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus.  What inspires you to walk in the margins as a Christian?  Perhaps you’re not a follower of Jesus, what inspires you to walk down that path?

This week we’ll examine the inspiration, the “why” as it relates to Peter and his letter to the early church.  In doing so, we’ll examine our own drivers of behavior and seek Truth not only in what we do but why do it.