Peter continues his appeal to brothers and sister in Christ to be different from the world by living in submission. It is our difference that becomes a witness, that creates conviction and that causes introspection that leads to questions and conversations. It is our difference that God uses to stir hearts, to expose the lies of the enemy and to reveal the hope that is only found in Christ. Salt, light, fragrance—all these descriptions and callings are defined by the difference they cause because of the difference in their properties. Salt preserves, it changes things from spoiling to sustaining. Light expels darkness, it changes the vision and the atmosphere of everything that surrounds it. Fragrance fills and covers, it changes the predominant odor. The only way to make a difference is to be different. Peter has been teaching us that we don’t get to decide or choose how we will be different—we are all called to be different by submission. Peter has been teaching a people, living in difficulty and headed toward persecution that the key to an effective witness is a “definitive” difference from the world they live in and he defines that difference as submission.
So far, Peter has taught about submission in what I call “external” relationships, submission to governmental leaders, the authorities of this world and our bosses and employers. This submission is to people that affect us but don’t fully know us, people that we might be “subject” to but not truly connected with. This submission is sometimes difficult, but we can deal with it because we are not always in the midst of them or feeling their constant affects on us.
In tonight’s passage, even though the chapter changes, the conversation and the calling remain the same. Now, Peter turns to our intimate relationships, submission of wives to husbands and husbands to wives, but even though he changes the relationships he’s speaking to, Peter does not change the purpose of the our submission. Even in marriage, we are called to have a definitive difference, to be strangers and pilgrims in the world, through marriage, as a witness to those watching. That witness is, in marriage as it is in everything else, lived out through submission.