I used to think the main theme of James was “a faith that works is a working faith.” And while true, James says a lot about the rich and the poor. I also used to think 1 Peter was about staying faithful in the midst of suffering. True, but now I see a main theme connected to this–submission. (“Submit” is used more in 1 Peter than any other book in the Bible!). The fullness of Peter’s theme is to submit to God and human authorities even in suffering. We kind of all leave out that ‘submit’ part.
But the thing that warms my heart is that Peter through the Spirit of God understands the role of leadership. With a very strong appeal (as a fellow elder, as a witness of Christ’s suffering, as a sharer in the glory to come) he admonishes the other leaders: ‘Serve as shepherd and overseers..willingly not because you ‘have-to,’ not greedy for gain but eager to serve, not lording it over those under you but being examples.’ I’m sure he wrote these because there were those leading because they felt it they ‘had to do it,’ they did it because they got paid, and they lorded their authority over those under them. Not fun. But Peter pleads with them to walk in the opposite spirit. And this gentle, kind yet diligent authority is what we all long for. This is the authority that people respond to.
Thanks Peter for understanding. You can be my leader any day.