Many of us are familiar with the famous story, “Rip Van Winkle.” Last year for the first time I really read the story in Washington Irving’s Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon. In it he describes Rip Van Winkle: “He would never refuse to assist a neighbor even in the roughest toil, and was a foremost man … for husking Indian corn, or building stone-fences … In a word, Rip was ready to attend to anybody’s business but his own; but as to doing family duty and keeping his farm in order, he found it impossible.”
That’s a pretty good description of some people, isn’t it? They’re ready to do anything for anyone — except their own family! It shouldn’t be that way — especially for those who claim to be Christians. I Timothy 5:8 says if you don’t care for your own household, you’re worse than an unbeliever. True religion starts at home. Listen: how we live towards our own family says a LOT about how real our faith is. Too many people live one way at church, and another way at home, and God says it is not to be that way. Your faith should very much impact the way you live at home, and the way you treat your husband, your wife, your children, your parents — every family member you have. There should be no disconnect between church and home. Your faith should impact the way you live in your home. And that is exactly what we see here in I Peter 3:1-7.
Now we should put this all in a little bit of context, which will help us understand everything in this passage better. If you go back to I Peter 2:12, you remember Peter told us “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles.” He says, people in the world are saying bad things about you as Christians, so you be extra careful to LIVE in a way that is a good witness to them. Then he said in :13 “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution” — be a good witness by submitting to authority wherever you are: at work, towards the government, and in your family. Even when you suffer, like Jesus did for us, do it as a good witness, trusting God. THAT is the context which brings us to this passage. Chapter 3 really just continues these same ideas from I Peter 2, except now it applies them to the HOME. He says live this same way as a witness at HOME. Christianity always starts at home. Our first mission field is where we live. So God speaks here to both men and women about how to live out our faith at home: Continue reading