Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
Suffering in, and suffering for our faith in Jesus isn’t a very pleasant thought, nor is it very popular among modern Christians in the west. It’d be interesting to have statistics for how often a Sunday sermon was given on the subject of trials, suffering or persecution.
Though it may be deemed to be unpopular or negative, our Lord taught many times about suffering for His Name’s sake, and that anyone who follows Him should expect it, for He suffered first. This portion of Peter’s letter reminds Christians of that, and adds an interesting statement right from the get go, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.
I find that interesting because elsewhere in Scriptures we’re told we can see fruits (whether rotten or healthy) in the lives of believers, and we can judge a person’s strength as a believer by those fruits. In this sentence, it’s almost similar, that we can tell if a person who suffers for Christ’s sake is done with sin. Not that they or any of us are sinless, but it would definitely be hard to suffer physically in the body for Jesus if one was still worldly.
It reminds me of a quote from Tolkien (yes I watched the Hobbit movies this past weekend) but I had this quote for a long time, and it fits well here, “Living by faith includes the call to something greater than cowardly self-preservation.”
The more we grow in our faith in Jesus, real faith, not just saying “I believe”, but a commitment to allow ourselves to be bent, proven, molded and shaped to His will, we will become more focused on the eternal, and less focused on this life and the preservation of it.
It also reminds me in a way of our warriors, who have been trained for battle, and determinedly go head on into it, knowing that there is a chance they may not survive it. They have been trained, but so are the faithful brothers and sisters of Christ.
Peter reminds us of what we have lived before, and what we can and will live for from now on, in this present world and in eternity. I’ve lived the secular life, and found it lacking, and I look around at it now, and find it hopeless and meaningless. There is so much to gain from giving our lives to the Lord, and as I was reminded in this past Sunday’s message, when we give our lives completely to Christ, we get a life. We go to Him with nothing, yet He gives us life. It may be abundant in many ways, including abundance of trials, but it is also abundant in blessings in eternity.
People wonder, how in the world can we rejoice in emotional or physical pain, persecution and trials, and often times we wonder how we can rejoice. It’s not easy, because it’s not logical. But rejoice doesn’t mean we have to go through pain with a smile- but we can rejoice because He goes through it with us, and gets us through it. Whether we survive in the body or not, He will get us through it. We can rejoice, because when we suffer for His sake, it means we’re making a difference that the enemy and the world don’t want us to make, because it brings Him Glory.
Yes it’s hard, and going to be harder until He comes or calls us home. But it will be temporary and that compared to what and Who awaits us in His Kingdom is something to rejoice about!
Have a blessed day all.