A Humble God and a Humble Community

Spending time in 1 Peter 5:1-6 this last week. I have learned two very important lessons. This first one has to do with humility. Check out this text.

“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,’God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

The exhortation to“all” to “clothe yourselves with humility” (5:5) seems to summarize this unit of Scripture. Humility is to be the hallmark of the Christian community as it is exhibited in every relationship. Note the various relationships in the community where humility is to be exhibited.

  1. Elders to elders (5:1–note that Peter does not reference his apostolic authority but considers himself as an elder speaking to other elders—there is humility here)
  2. Elders to congregation (5:2-3, 5)
  3. Chief Shepherd to church (5:4–the Chief Shepherd is the one who has exhibited perfect humility in the way he has saved and served the church. The exhortation to the undershepherds is ultimately grounded in the perfect leadership of the Son. He is the paradigm for all biblical leadership in the church. Joel Green says as much in his commentary. “As Jesus is the Chief Shepherd and elders are shepherds, so Jesus provides the “pattern” and elders a “model.”—1 Peter: Two Horizons New Testament Commentary. I think J has done a great job showing this.)
  4. Young to elders (5:5—It is interesting that he focuses on the youth here—why does he do this?)
  5. Everyone to everyone (5:5—this may in context refer to elders and the young)
  6. Church to God (5:6)

Jesus shows us that God is humble. His life is a window into the inter-relations of the Trinity. When we peak in we see perfect humility expressed one to another. It could be no other way since the Triune God opposes the proud (5:5). There is no opposition in the Trinity and therefore no hint of pride. The greatest display of God’s humility is in the incarnation and cross of the Son. Peter encourages us to view the entire life-work of Jesus as the work of a shepherd/pastor. He comes for lost sheep. He gives his life away for those sheep purchasing them with his own blood. He then protects, guards, feeds, and continues to serve that flock that belongs to him. This is humility. In Jesus we behold the perfect pastor. He is the only pastor that can save us. He is the hope of every undershepherd and every member of the flock. It is this humble shepherd that brings us into the fold of God and connects us into fellowship with the Triune God. Since we are the humble Shepherd’s sheep and we now belong to the humble community of the Godhead we are also to be characterized by humility. All of our relationships must be reflective of the pastor of pastors and the community of communities. Authority, age, gender, race, intelligence, economic status, and outward appearance must have no bearing on the way we engage one another in the church. Humility is the only appropriate garb for Christ-followers. God has humbled himself under us and served us—what a thought!! We now are called to humble ourselves under him and under our brothers and sisters. Humility finds feet in the community when we strive to outdo one another in honor. In this way we reflect the humble Triune God who created us.

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