In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and the first chapter of the bible tells us how he brought the earth into proper order, day by day, and piece by piece, to serve as a temple, a holy place where he could descend and live with his children: human beings that he had specially created to connect with him on a deep, personal level, at a level that no other plant or animal on earth was able to connect.
And it becomes clear that the way these human beings are designed to connect with God is through worship. And it is equally clear that these human beings are designed to lead the rest of creation — even plants and animals — into worship, into a deeper connection with God.
But this concept of the whole earth as a temple is really too big for human beings to really grasp. So in Chapter 2 of the bible, God zoomed in and created a much smaller model of his earthly temple: a sacred garden, a smaller and more manageable holy place where he could descend and live with these human beings who had been designed to connect with him. And during that second chapter it becomes clear that they are not expected to lead the whole world of plants and animals into worship all at once! — they are supposed to begin in the center, with the plants and animals in the garden, and work their way outward from there, generation by generation, until the whole earth is filled with the perfected knowledge of God.
But before we go on, we need to understand that, in the bible, the word “worship” is not just talking about the religious rituals of bowing and praying and all that. The rituals of worship only take up maybe 1% of our time? but the bible makes it clear that the other 99% of our lives are also meant to be spent in worship.
And the way proper worship is expressed in that other 99% of our lives is through obedience to God. In other words: everyday, ordinary obedience to God is actually worship. And the bible also makes it clear that, really, God cares more about the 99% than he does about the 1%. In other words: God does not care if you get the 1% ritual religious obedience part correct if you do not also get the 99% ordinary everyday obedience part correct.
And I wanted to be clear about this because we do not want to get the idea that Adam and Eve were supposed to teach plants and animals to bow down and pray and all that. Only human beings were given the kind of spirit that can connect with God in that way. But even though that 1% aspect of worship is missing from plants and animals, the other 99% is still there.
So the point is this:
Human beings were designed by God to begin in the garden and gradually bring all things into proper order and obedience to God: that is what ”worship” really means.
But we know how the story goes, don’t we? Adam, in particular, failed to lead creation into proper worship. Not only that, he actually did the opposite: instead of leading plants and animals into proper worship, he followed one particular animal into the false worship of one particular plant. And as a result, he became a slave to uncertainty and death.
And the rest of the bible tells the story of how Adam’s children continued in that slavery, how they continued to worship created things rather than the Creator. They had been designed to connect with God on a deep, personal level, and to help connect the rest of creation to God…but instead mankind became obsessed with forming a deep, personal connection to plants and animals and angels, connecting creation directly to themselves in the hope that — if they could just find the right key — they might be able to unlock the chains of their slavery to uncertainty and death and finally regain mastery over creation.
And last week Peter, in his letter to the Christians of Roman Asia, reminded his friends of an old nightmare that fully captured how far down mankind had fallen into slavery. He reminded them of Ezekiel’s horrifying experience, 600 years earlier, of seeing how even the worship at God’s temple had become completely corrupted, and how God’s judgment was forced to begin at the very center of it.
If you remember: all the elders of Israel were gathered together in the darkness at the heart of God’s temple, but instead of leading plants and animals and people into proper worship, they were actually worshiping plants and animals and people! And because that 1% of ritual religious worship at the temple was so completely corrupted, all the rest of the 99% of ordinary life in the city had also become completely corrupted: God himself tells Ezekiel that the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of injustice.
And as Ezekiel watched, God’s judgement began with the elders, and worked its way outward from there: first the elders, then the younger men and women, then the mothers and children: everyone in the city who had followed their leaders into the false worship of plants and animals and angels.
And even last week we talked about how it makes sense for God’s judgement to begin with his own household, his own people: because if the model of proper worship is corrupted, then how can the rest of creation ever learn? Clearly God’s children must be purified and repurified in every generation, to make sure that our 1% and our 99% aspects of worship keep on being brought back into God’s proper order.
Basically, we learned last week that God’s children learn obedience through what they suffer — just as God’s Son, Jesus, learned obedience through what he suffered.
Today, Peter returns to this idea that God’s judgement must begin at the center. If worship is to be purified and brought into proper order and obedience, then — very obviously — the worship leaders must be purified first.
Just as in Ezekiel’s vision, God’s judgement begins with the elders.
“So,” Peter says next,  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…
Just as it was designed to do back in the garden of Eden, proper worship in Jesus’ Church must begin in the center, with the men who have been called to lead worship. Which means that God’s judgement, God’s testing, God’s purification of the Church must begin with the elders, to make sure they are on the right track.
That is why Peter appeals to them here as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Peter wants these elders to remember that he, Peter, was among the first have his loyalty to Christ tested by God. He was among the first to join Jesus during the troubled years of his earthly ministry. He was the first to be arrested and questioned by the authorities. He was also the first to be arrested a second time, and the first to be caned with the rotan: a punishment that is not only painful but socially humiliating. He has been in prison at least once — and it is possible that he is writing this letter from prison.
So, in other words: Peter is not just writing to his friends as an eye-witness of Jesus’ sufferings, Peter is writing as a verbal witness to the sufferings that he himself has shared with Christ during the years since: sufferings that came upon him specifically because he is an elder, a worship leader, a shepherd over God’s flock.
So, basically, last week Peter told the Christians of Roman Asia that they should not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come upon them. This week he is telling the elders in particular that they should not be surprised to find themselves at the very center of that fiery ordeal. Elders should not think that something strange is happening to them when they suffer first and more deeply than the Christians who are under their care.
And that is why Peter appeals to them here to be shepherds, watching over God’s flock: because shepherds are supposed to be the first line of defense. Shepherds are supposed to suffer first. When danger comes, shepherds are expected to fight — and even, perhaps, die — first, before the flock, in order to save the life of the flock. That is the job of a shepherd. And that is why Peter tells these elders to be shepherds: so they can have a clear picture of what God is expecting from them.
But there is another reason why Peter uses the word “shepherd” here: he is not just giving the elders a picture of what they should be like, he is also giving them a picture of what they should not be like.
See, Peter’s use of the word ”shepherds” here is actually meant to point backwards again to a very famous passage in the Book of Ezekiel:
In the Book of Ezekiel, six years after Ezekiel’s nightmare vision about the judgement that was going to fall on Jerusalem, a report came out of the west that Ezekiel’s vision had come true: the Jerusalem had been completely destroyed. Only the kampung people from the countryside remained behind, living among the ruins of their nation.
But apparently, even then, even in the face of the terrible evidence of God’s judgement on the city people, the kampung people refused to repent of their corrupted worship, their corrupted lifestyles. They were saying to each other, “Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land. But we are many! So we’ll just start again! After all: we are God’s people, right? And he did promise us this land!”
But God says, “Oh, you stubborn people! You’re gonna make me do it! You’re really gonna make me go all the way, aren’t you! My judgement began in the temple and then spread outward to devastate the city — but even now you think you are immune to my judgement, that you are somehow different from the city people? Very well, then: now I will make the entire land a desolate waste! Then you will know that I am the LORD.”
And the very next prophecy Ezekiel makes in his book is this very famous passage about the shepherds of Israel. The reason the kampung people’s lives are so corrupted is because the shepherds of Israel have gotten everything turned around backwards: instead of suffering to save the lives of God’s flock, they are using God’s flock to ease their own sufferings. And so: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Curses upon you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. That is why they have been scattered now! That is why they are being devoured by wild animals now!’
So, now, in Peter’s letter, when Peter tells these elders to be shepherds, he intends this word “shepherd” to be both a job description and a warning: do not become like the shepherds of Israel during Ezekiel’s time. If you do, not only will God’s judgement begin with you, but you will be actually spreading God’s judgement, you will be scattering God’s flock, and without good shepherds they will be devoured by false teachers, and the false empires of our world!
And just to make sure his point is clear, Peter goes on to explicitly name the sins of the shepherds of Israel during Ezekiel’s time; he goes on to tell his fellow elders, very clearly, what they are not supposed to do, and what they are supposed to do instead:
Verse 2: 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.
Let’s look at each of these instructions in turn:
First: be shepherds…not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be.
And this command is interesting, because we have to wonder: why would anyone feel like they must serve as an elder? Who would force someone else to be a shepherd?
Ah, but see: Peter is not primarily talking about external compulsion, he is not talking about one person forcing another to be an elder. Peter is talking about internal compulsion: someone who feels, within themselves, that they must be a shepherd.
And we can think of a number of reasons why someone might feel some kind of internal pressure to become an elder in a church:
Some might be motivated by guilt: they worry that, if they do not accept the job of shepherding, then perhaps no one will to the job and the church will fall apart. But guilt is not a godly motivation. The man who feels guilty about not serving, the man who serves only because there is no one else available should really step back and trust that God will raise up willing shepherds for his flock, men who want to do the job because they love God’s people.
But, to be honest with you, a far more common motivation is the desire for status in society. The shepherds of Israel during Ezekiel’s time treasured the high status that comes from being an elder. And this was true during Jesus’ time also: Jesus himself warned God’s people that most of their elders were elders because they loved all the extra respect that comes from being in a position of authority. Just like the shepherds in Ezekiel’s time, they loved the privileges of high position — but they were not willing to take care of the flock: to strengthen the weak or heal the sick or bind up the injured, as God wanted them to be.
Now, I want to be clear about this: the internal desire to be an elder is not necessarily a bad thing. As the bible says in another place: If anyone sets his heart on being an elder, he desires a noble task! But Peter is saying: make sure your desire is based on the right motivations. Do not become a shepherd because you must have authority or responsibility or the approval and praise of people or anything like that. Instead, be shepherds because you are willing: because you share in God’s deep love and compassion for his people.
And Peter’s second instruction actually builds on the first: be shepherds…not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve.
Higher authority comes with the possibility of greater honour, and that is why positions of authority often attract people who are obsessed with status. But higher authority also comes with the possibility of greater wealth. And that is why positions of authority often attract people who are obsessed with prosperity.
This was true of Israel’s shepherds during Ezekiel’s time: they loved to eat the curds, clothe themselves with the wool, and slaughter the choice animals: instead of taking care of the sheep, they ate them. And the same was true of the elders during Jesus’ time: they loved to walk around in rich robes, and devour widows’ houses — in other words: they loved to make a killing in real estate by buying low from desperate widows, and then selling high to some other desperate family.
Now, here also I want to be clear about something: making money is not necessarily a bad thing. What Peter condemns here is “dishonest gain”.
So we have to ask: what does he mean by “dishonest gain”?
Well, the Greek word Peter uses is an unusual word. It does not mean “stealing” or “embezzling”. It literally means “shameful profit”. So…that’s not very helpful.
But we can perhaps learn what this word “dishonest gain” means by looking at its opposite: eager to serve. And we find that this Greek word is also an unusual word. At the simplest level it literally means something like “passionately”, “enthusiastically”, “generously” — or, as our version says: eagerly.
And what is the opposite of “passionately” or “enthusiastically” or “generously”? The opposite of this word would be “ungenerously”, “unenthusiastically”…“calculatingly”.
Peter is contrasting a calculating attitude toward money with a generous attitude. In other words: Peter does not want the elders of the church to be men who are constantly trying to work the angles and figure out how to gain more profit from a situation.
And this is not just about money, it is also about relationships. Money can be used to make more money, yes — but I think we all know that money can also be used to gain power over people.
When Peter says “not pursuing dishonest gain,” he is highlighting a social practice in the Roman empire that we are actually very familiar with here in Asia:
See, in the Roman empire there was no such thing as a gift without strings attached. So, for instance, if you come to me desperate for financial help, and I help you, now you owe me money. And until you pay me back, you owe me your loyalty and friendship. If I own a store, you are obligated to shop at my store. If I am a politician, you are obligated to support me. And so, higher status people would deliberately use their status to make a profit in money and in social power. They would deliberately loan money and do favours for people in order to gain a following for themselves.
It is obviously possible for elders a church to have the same calculating attitude. Congregation members come to them for help in one way or another, they give that help — and then they benefit in two ways: first, they look generous! Right? They look so kind and compassionate! See how we are helping this desperate person over here? Handshake, photo op, ”make sure to post that on the church website, ya?” But second, behind the scenes, that desperate person is now in debt to those elders. And later on, when the elders decide they want a bigger building, or maybe a corporate jet, well: “You know which way to vote, don’t you?!”
That is what Peter means by “dishonest gain”: using your position of authority to consolidate your control over the congregation and pad your own bank account. That is absolutely repulsive to God. And so Peter is saying: do not do that! Instead, be eager to serve, eager to give away your money and your time without any expectation of return. Serve God’s flock freely; do not go around making them feel like they owe you something.
And Peter’s third instruction builds on the first two, and summarizes them: be shepherds…not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
Positions of higher authority tend to attract people who are obsessed with honour and with prosperity. Honour is a kind of power; prosperity is a kind of power. And this means that positions of higher authority also tend to attract people who are obsessed with power itself: the desire to command and control.
And this also was true of Israel’s shepherds during Ezekiel’s time. In Ezekiel’s book, God compares them to goats amongst the sheep, and describes how they shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with their horns until they have driven them away. Then they eat all the good grass, and trample the rest; they drink all the clean water, and muddy the rest. In the same way, Jesus cursed the leaders of Israel in his own time for loading the people down with burdens, forcing them to do all the work of religion but without the reward of eternal life.
Shepherds are not lords, they are not commanders who direct the flock from the back, they are supposed to lead from the front; they are supposed to lead by example.
Remember, according to Peter, the primary task of the shepherd is to watch over God’s flock: making sure that God’s people are being connected to God through worship. And, quite clearly, worship is not something that is directed from the back: worship is something that must be led. Yes, shepherds do need to speak God’s words to God’s flock, so that God’s flock knows how to connect with God through worship. But then the shepherds need to lead the flock into worship by doing it themselves.
And it is clear that the kind of worship leading elders are supposed to do is not just the 1% ritual religious part. Yes, elders should model what preaching and praying and singing should look like. But all of that is completely wasted if the elders do not also get the 99% ordinary everyday part correct.
What is clear here, from the way Peter writes, is that elders must be examples to the flock in the way they live: in the attitudes of their hearts, in the content of their character. In a world that tells Christians to always seek higher positions and greater honour for the cause of Christ…elders must lead the way downward. In a world that tells Christians to always leverage their position to gain a following for the Gospel…elders must be a model of what it looks like to serve without recognition. In a world that tells Christians to always seize power where they can for the sake of the Gospel…elders must provide an example of what it looks like to live a quiet life: to mind their own business and work with their hands, so that their daily lives — and not their big mouths or big personalities — might win the respect of outsiders.
To summarize Peter’s point so far: being an elder is…dangerous. Not only does God’s judgement — and the world’s judgement — begin with the elders, and not only is that testing more severe, but the temptations that come with being an elder are also more severe. Higher authority comes with heavier responsibilities, but it also comes with greater power. And power is such a dangerous thing to the human soul! And in fact that is why God’s testing of elders must be more severe: in order to purify them and protect them from the severe temptations that come with a position of authority in the Church.
But now, after all that bad news about how many different ways shepherds can fail, here is the Good News: being an elder is not all scary! Because,  when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
And who is this Chief Shepherd?
Well, here again, Peter is pointing his readers backwards to the Book of Ezekiel, back to this famous chapter where God curses the shepherds of Israel for devouring and scattering the flock. A lot of that chapter is very bad, very dark. But then, in the midst of that darkness, God says this: “Because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. I will rescue them from the the places where they were scattered. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak. I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them: he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be chief among them.”
The human shepherds of Israel failed. So God promised that, one day, he — himself — would come to earth and be the shepherd for his own people. And Ezekiel prophesied that, when God came to be a shepherd, he would take on the form of a man, a man born into the line of King David. It would be as if David himself was reborn: a shepherd who was raised up to become King.
Ezekiel prophesied that a son of David would become the Chief Shepherd over God’s people. And almost 600 years after he wrote those words, it happened: Jesus Christ, the son of David, fought and died to save the lives of God’s flock, and for his reward he was raised up and crowned king as well as shepherd.
And this is Good News for the elders of the churches in Roman Asia. Because, first of all, it means that there is a limit to the damage they can do. Jesus, our Chief Shepherd, is ruling from heaven. But his rule is applied directly on earth through his Holy Spirit. And his Holy Spirit works directly through the lives of God’s people: beginning with the elders and working its way outward from the center.
In Ezekiel’s time, God’s Spirit lived in the center of a stone temple, but not in the hearts of the elders. And obviously that was not enough: they felt very comfortable sitting in the dark, worshiping idols right outside the room that contained the glory of God.
But now God’s Spirit lives in the center of a living temple, right in the hearts of his people. And that Spirit purifies and protects God’s people from the darkness within and without. And as Peter has already pointed out: that purification and protection begins with the elders.
So, even though being an elder is dangerous; even though the temptations — and the consequences of sin — are greater for a shepherd of God’s flock, Peter does not want elders to live in fear. He has told them clearly what not to do, and what to do instead, and the whole reason he did this is because he believes they can do this! He believes that the Holy Spirit within them will pass them through the fires of purification again and again, guiding them, and teaching them, and leading them in the way they should go. The Holy Spirit — the Spirit of the Chief Shepherd — will restrain them from doing the kind of damage the elders did during Ezekiel’s time.
That’s the first bit of Good News. The second bit is this: just as the Chief Shepherd was raised up and given the crown of victory, so also will those who serve faithfully as under-shepherds. On the other side of testing is the reward. On the other side of death lies the crown.
And I want to make sure and be clear about something else here: this idea of a reward is a good thing.
Over the years, some people have criticized Peter for saying this. They look back at his instructions and they think that Peter has contradicted himself here: how can he say — basically — “do not be an elder for what you can get out of it,” and then turn around and say, “but look at this reward you’ll get for being an elder!” Isn’t this idea of a reward just a new temptation to be an elder for what you can get out of it?
Peter is not worried about that. He is confident that the kind of men who actually watch over God’s flock willingly and generously, leading by living example — elder like this have already proven that the Holy Spirit has purified their motivations. So Peter is not tempting them with another selfish motivation. Instead, he is encouraging them to remember the big picture: to remember that whatever they may have to give up in this life will be returned to them, a profit that is infinitely greater than what was invested.
And even this attitude of keeping the eyes fixed on the big picture is meant to serve as a living example to the flock: because Peter has already said that every Christian is going to receive an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade.
Which means that it is time for Peter to turn his attention to the rest of the church: In the same way, he says in verse 5, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders.
In the same way, submit, Peter says, and this phrase is designed to point back all the way through his letter to other examples of submission: slaves, submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good, but also to those who are harsh. Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your husbands, not only to those who are good, but also to those who are harsh. Husbands, in the same way, be considerate to your wives, not only to those who are good, but also to those who are harsh. And so now, you who are younger, in the same way, submit to your elders…not only to those who are good, but also to those who are harsh.
But wait a minute: didn’t Peter just say that a true elder is not going to be harsh?
Well…yes. But…two things:
First, no elder is perfect, just as no husband or wife or boss is perfect. Mistakes will be made. Harshness can sometimes happen. Besides all this, sometimes a sheep interprets a shepherd’s actions as harsh when actually the shepherd is trying to snatch that sheep out of danger. So Peter is warning younger members of a congregation not to jump to conclusions too quickly regarding their elders’ actions. It could be that the elders are seeing dangers that are not yet visible to the sheep.
But, second: as Peter made clear when he talked about submission earlier in his letter, this word “submit” does not mean mindless, unquestioning obedience. When Peter says submit in the same way, he means for Christians to submit in the same way Jesus submitted: thoughtfully aware that God really is in control over everything. He is even in control over harsh elders who may be proving — by their harshness — that they are not actually true elders.
So: practically speaking, what are younger Christians supposed to do?
Practically speaking, sometimes an elder seems momentarily harsh. There may be good reasons for that. In that case, Peter’s advice for younger Christians is this: submit to God by submitting to your elders. Forgive, and trust that God is still at work purifying your elders just as he is still at work in you.
But sometimes an elder actually is habitually harsh: serving because he loves honour, prosperity, and control more than he loves Jesus. In that case, Peter’s advice for younger Christians is this: submit to God by submitting to his command to seek the peace and purity of the Church. Go and start a conversation with your other elders. See if they are aware of the problem: it could be that they are already working on it. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that — if it turns out you were wrong — you will not need to be ashamed of your harshness.
But sometimes most or all of the elders in a church are harsh — honour seeking, profit seeking, power seeking — people. If that is the case, then Peter’s advice for younger Christians is this: submit to God by seeking out another church. Because elders that refuse to submit to Peter’s instructions are proving that they are not submitted to God. They are false elders, false worship leaders, and if you continue to follow them they will lead you right into deliberate idolatry, and from there into God’s judgement.
And this is a very deliberate warning on Peter’s part. When he says you who are younger, submit, he is pointing back to other parts of his letter. But he is also pointing all the way back to Ezekiel’s vision. In Ezekiel’s vision, God’s judgement began with the elders…but it did not stop there. God clearly tells his avenging angels, “Slaughter the elders.“ Then, “the young men and women,” and go on from there.
Yes, elders are held to a higher standard. Which means: yes, false elders will experience a greater judgement. Yes, younger people who follow false elders into false worship will experience a lesser judgement. But judgement is still judgement. Condemnation is still condemnation.
Ezekiel tells us that only those who have been marked by the angel of the LORD will be saved. And the rest of the bible is clear: we can tell who has been marked and who has not by how they live, how they worship. So younger Christians: the end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind. Keep your eyes open, and study the character of your elders. If their character is good, then follow them, confident that they carry the angel’s mark. If their character is bad, then do not follow them, because they do not carry the mark.
And so Peter closes this section with a call to everyone, older Christians and younger ones, to let their lives reflect the reality of the mark they have been given: All of you, he says, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
The Christians of Roman Asia lived in a world that valued ambition and self-promotion, and despised humility.
We live in the same world. In 2000 years nothing has changed about the empires we live in. Sure: the details are different. But the values and temptations remain the same. And so Peter’s instructions for his friends in Roman Asia are the same for us in Modern Asia: choose humility instead of arrogance. Choose love instead of obligation. Choose generosity instead of calculating social profit. Choose leading by example instead of command and control. Elders and older Christians…you go first. Younger and newer Christians…watch closely, and then imitate your elders as they imitate Christ. “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation” by refusing to live according to the empty way of life handed down to us from our ancestors. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, we will all receive a crown of glory, an inheritance, that will never fade away.
In the beginning, the entire earth was designed to operate as a temple, and mankind was designed to operate as a priesthood within that temple, to draw all things into proper worship for the glory of God. Instead, mankind has broken the world up into many different empires, and each empire is designed to point to the glory of its own citizens instead of God.
Well, God knew that reversing all that damage is far too big a task for us. So, just as in the beginning, he has zoomed in and created a much smaller model of his earthly temple for us: a sacred garden called the Church, a smaller and more manageable holy place where he can descend and live with us and purify our worship as his children. And while this means that judgement begins in the center, it also means that redemption begins in the center.
Change begins in the center. I know that many of us are deeply concerned about the state of the world, the corruption of our societies. We desperately want to make a difference. And we are going to talk about this more next week, as Peter closes his letter. But, really, all the way through his letter, Peter’s point has been clear: before change can happen out there, change must begin right here, in the center, with the family of God.
Thank God that change has already begun with our Saviour, Jesus Christ! — otherwise, ours would be a hopeless task. He is already on the way to making everything new! — and he has begun with us. Redemption has already begun with us, and it will finish its work!
So then, let us commit ourselves to our faithful Creator and continue to do good! without fear and with great joy.