1 Peter 4

Greetings!  Peter denied Jesus three times before the crucifixion.  Yet after the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit (see the beginning of the book of Acts) he and the other disciples were transformed into fearless witnesses for Jesus.  This is one of the many evidences of the resurrection, by the way. 

When he wrote about persecution it was a topic he was familiar with.  Peter was eventually killed for his faith (tradition holds that he asked to be crucified upside down because he didn’t think he was worthy to die the way his Savior did). 

1 Peter 4 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life 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 think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, 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 men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

Do you look authentically different from the world?  We should obviously pray for relief for persecuted Christians and that the Gospel would be easier to spread.  It is bad when authentic Christians fail in public (and private) ways, because that hurts the witness of the church.  Yet when living in the freedom of the U.S. it is easier to be a false Christian because there is no risk of persecution.  Then those false Christians hurt the witness even more.  We should strive to live as authentically as we can so the world will see what a difference Christ makes.  When people take the Bible seriously and live it out then everything around them gets better – families, friends, the workplace, etc.

The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it 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.

We are all given some talents at birth and we can develop those further.  We are also given spiritual gifts at our conversion.  This isn’t a time for false humility.  Be sure to take your talents and gifts and use them for his Kingdom. 

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that 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 the family of God; 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.

Peter acknowledges that Christians may suffer for their faith, but that we should persevere until the end.  It will be worth it.  Sometimes the good news of Jesus Christ is shared without mentioning the costs.  While no one will ultimately regret truly following Jesus, being a Christian can bring serious challenges into our lives.   It is encouraging to be reminded that this suffering is only for a time and that viewing it from an eternal perspective it is actually a blessing. 

Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.  Next up: 1 Peter 5

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