Final Words--Important Thoughts
An unprecedented three-time Professional Bull Rider World Champion, Adriano Moraes, announced 2008 is his last season. As one of the best in the world he has a flawless technique and natural riding ability, but there's much more to Adriano than bull riding: he is a man deeply committed to Jesus Christ and to serving his Lord. "Work, faith, and humbleness," is the motto by which he and his family live. "When I'm close to my God," he says, "I'm doing well."
Before he hit it big he'd started a ministry to other riders and those on the circuit, "Rodeo with Christ". He put it aside for a while when he came into the limelight but a call from his Brazilian, Catholic roots and his wife soon found him consecrated into the Cancoa Nova Community. With the help of the church, Adriano expanded, "Rodeo with Christ," a ministry in Brazil and the United States which includes TV shows and an annual "Rodeo with Christ" evangelistic rodeo. The primary goal in both endeavors is to spread the truth of Jesus Christ to those who need to hear it.
This guy isn't known to most of us unless you follow PBR. It's a niche sport and he's a niche player within it but his faithfulness to our Lord is one example of the truth in verses 6-7, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
These verses form a chief point for this closing part of Peter's letter. It brings out a recurring theme that we've seen before in Peter's writing. It also provides a way to deal with the very real threat of spiritual warfare that is all around us.
Peter is the author of this letter. If there is any doubt, look at the first few verses of this chapter. Can't you imagine Peter remembering Jesus on the beach after the resurrection? Three times he asks Peter, "Do you love me?" and three times Jesus commands Peter to feed and care for His sheep. Now, Peter passes this same advice and command on to this next generation of leaders. They are to be shepherd and examples to God's flock. Those who are chronologically younger are to become humble and submissive to those who are older.
There is a larger issue going on here that we'd do well to explore. In Peter's era, age equaled wisdom and demanded respect. To be an older person was to be a person of authority and someone to be obeyed. The younger person was to respect, listen to and honor those who were older because they had the wisdom of life experience.
What Peter does is turns the ancient world's concept on its head. Elders, those with authority would never think a lifestyle of humility as being a good thing. To be humble, in a Greek or Roman culture, was never a good thing. But when one follows Christ we are called and commanded to do that which goes against the flow. So the elders as well as those who are younger and probably a bit more full-of-themselves are to honor those who are over them. Then in the end of verse 5 both groups are told to clothe themselves with humility. The thought is that there is a mutual servitude that is played out at all levels of God's people. Peter, no doubt, recalls Jesus' clothing himself with a towel and washing their feet as he writes this to these fellow followers.
The key to living through the difficult times ahead for Peter's day and ours is found in mutual humility, service and overwhelming love for one another. In practice, this means no one feels or behaves as if they are "better than another" simply because of age or authority. That could be an issue today as well, but we've probably met people who feel that money, intellect, social awareness, environmental knowledge, or denominational label makes them superior and deserving of respect. It doesn't. In fact, God sets His face, against those who are arrogant and lifts up those who are humble in HIS time, not ours.
Not only are we lifted up in God's time but we also discover that we can trust God to care for us as we leave our burdens on Him. And beyond this, we can face any spiritual or demonic warfare with a certitude that flows from a constantly aware state of readiness and a firm rejection of the lies that flow from Satan's mouth.
How does this happen today. God places His hand on a Brazilian bull rider and uses him to touch others in his career. God works in the lives of a congregation so that your co-workers seek out prayer for their life situations. And God takes the most common elements of a meal, simple bread and wine and uses them to nourish those who would follow Him. Let us come to His table now.
 Beyond the Bull television series, Episode 1, "Out of the Gate" (The Learning Channel, 1-10-05);