Since Christ suffered…

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. 
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4

As I wrote about in my previous post, this summer I have spent my study time diving into Peter’s two letters. They have devastated me. These posts will be lessons I learned and notes I took from I and II Peter. -jon 

Faithful Christians of the past hold an important place in the life of the believer. There are those who model character and honesty, loyalty and faithfulness. Hebrews chapter eleven is a chapter filled with such models of great examples for us to learn from. We can learn from these men and women how to behave and even how to live. What is very interesting to think about is that Peter doesn’t point to any of the patriarchs of the faith though when he deals with the subject of suffering and stewardship. Rather, Peter gives the profound statement, “Since therefore Christ suffered…” as the pivotal model and inspiration for the Christian concerning being punished for doing good (suffering) and for living purely according the will of God (stewardship).

When I was boy my dad took me to see Michael Jordan play in his early years. I think is was ’88, but I specifically remember standing in the cheap seats screaming for two and a half hours for Jordan’s Bulls as they destroyed the Miami Heat. Jordan became a basketball role model for me. He wore black socks, so I stole my dad’s black dress socks and wore them with my Nike Basketball shoes so that I could have black socks. Jordan would stick his tongue out when he dunked, I couldn’t dunk but my tongue was out whether I had the ball or didn’t have the ball. I wore a Jordan t-shirt everywhere and rooted for Michael passionately. Yet, in 93′ when he retired from basketball he left the team I loved to go play baseball. I remember feeling betrayed and that was the last time I wore a Jordan shirt or jersey. Two years later when Jordan came back from baseball, I didn’t root for Jordan. My allegiance had shifted to Reggie Miller and the Pacers. I hated Jordan, I mean I loved Him, but I hated him. For the last few years of Jordan’s career, I rooted for the sonics, the Jazz and the Jazz again. Jordan won each year and that only fueled my hatred because in my mind he left me when my team needed him.

Models that are human and not divine, will always leave you disappointed. 

I might have been a stupid kid, but in my mind Jordan was a traitor. Looking back on it now, it is stupid. I should have gotten over it, but I didn’t. The point I am getting at is that most in christianity have a Michael Jordan figure that they try to model and emulate. I have seen this my whole life. Sometimes it is an a Pastor, maybe a parent or even a Christian leader. Some even try to model a way of living as if that was a real person or real objective to living well. I have also seen many Christians disappointed in those very same models when those models, (right or wrong), don’t do what they thought they should do. I have seen Christians leave churches because the pastor changed something that really didn’t matter in the scope of eternity, but it did matter enough to them to cause a split and leave nasty. I could tell more stories but the important truth to get is that…

Models are not the way to live the Christian life for only Christ is perfect. We should pattern our lives after Jesus. 

Peter points to Jesus as the model to live after when discussing the two biggest areas that Christian struggle with (truthfully, the only two areas). Stewardship – living your life in a way that glorifies God and please Christ (pretty much everything in your life). And Suffering – when bad things happen to people who do good for either reasons we don’t understand or because of persecution (which is pretty much everything else in your life).

Verse 2 is a hammer, we are to live the rest of our lives not after what makes my flesh happy, but “for the will of God.” And the Peter names a list of examples just in case someone thought this was just hypothetical. Peter reminds us that any life lived away from God’s plan is a “flood of debauchery.” We are rather to live lives of self-control and right thinking so that our prayers can be answered(vs. 7).

Suffering for Christ as Christ suffered, is to be expected if we live like Christ.

Peter reminds us (vs.12-14) that it shouldn’t surprise us when bad things happen to those that do good just because God’s glory will be revealed in the end even if it is our end. We must stay true to the gospel of God regardless of our own outcome. While it is easy to say that, it takes faith in God to take care of us regardless the situation or as Peter calls it “entrust their souls to a faithful creator.”

Thoughts to chew on:

  • Have I “armed yourself with the same way of thinking” like Christ?
  • Do I long for “human passions” or the “will of God?” The proof is whether I live in sensuality.
  • Do I keep loving people so that it stops sin or do I keep sinning and watch the love stop?
  • Am I surprised when bad things happen to me?
  • Do I rejoice when bad things happen to me?
  • Judgement will come from God, obey God and be judged as faithful not as unfaithful.
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