This Fall in going through a Navigators study, I was able to revisit I Peter 5 and found a few new reflections to add to my learning experience.
The passage begins with Peter reminding us as he did in Chapter 1 of all that we can look forward to that has been given to us in Christ. "The glory to be revealed" (vs.1) and the "glory that will never fade away" (vs.4) These ring familiar as we remember in the beginning of the book where he talks about the "inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade kept in Heaven for you..." and also brings to mind parallel passages in Ephesians where Paul says God has "blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ" (Eph 1:3) The language in all three of these places is way over the top to remind us of how great and awesome is what we have waiting for us.
Of special significance in our passage here is that it is reminding us of our hope for after we have persevered through the suffering. It is about time for some good news after throughout the whole book telling us to keep on keeping on and not give up. Here is a wonderful picture of what happens if we do. We "share in the glory to be revealed" (vs.1) Hallelujah!
The aspect of humility struck me differently this time because we have spent the whole book being told to submit - to rulers and government; to masters, husbands, parents and one another. Now when it says in verse 6 "that he may lift you up in due time" we breathe a huge sigh of relief. We submit and then He lifts us up! Now that is some good news!
The context of speaking to leaders caused me to look parts of the passage differently as well. As a lay-leader myself, I was struck by verse 2 where it says to shepherd the flock "not because we must, but because we are willing." This reminded me to keep the heart at the forefront of my ministry, not the task.
As we studied cross references on humility we were led to the passage in John 13:3-16 where Jesus washes the disciples' feet. With this picture of "The ultimate Servant-leader" in my mind I read "not lording it over those entrusted to you" (vs.3) and "clothe yourself in humility" (vs.5) with new eyes.
We were asked to think of someone that we normally would find it hard to be humble toward and come up with ideas of how we could "clothe ourselves in humility" that is, make a conscious effort to be a servant to those individuals. The first thing that came to my mind was my children. What if I were to approach my children in this way? I tend to "lord it over them" all the time. But Jesus didn't do that. He was their leader. He was their teacher. But he made himself low and served them to lead them and show the way. He was the Chief Shepherd (vs. 4) how can I not do likewise?
The passage sums itself up so well in verse 10-11 "And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever Amen!"
(All scripture references from the NIV)