Reading: 1 Peter 4
Christ suffered here on earth. Now you must be ready to suffer as he did, because suffering shows that you have stopped sinning. It means you have turned from your own desires and want to obey God for the rest of your life. You have already lived long enough like people who don't know God. You were immoral and followed your evil desires. You went around drinking and partying and carrying on. In fact, you even worshiped disgusting idols. Now your former friends wonder why you have stopped running around with them, and they curse you for it. But they will have to answer to God, who judges the living and the dead. The good news has even been preached to the dead, so that after they have been judged for what they have done in this life, their spirits will live with God....
Don't be ashamed to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God that you belong to him. God has already begun judging his own people. And if his judgment begins with us, imagine how terrible it will be for those who refuse to obey his message. The Scriptures say, "If good people barely escape, what will happen to sinners and to others who don't respect God?" If you suffer for obeying God, you must have complete faith in your faithful Creator and keep on doing right. (1 Peter 4:1-6, 16-19 CEV)
Reflecting and Thinking
The connection may seem obscure to the modern reader--suffering separates us from sin. God's will becomes supreme and is our greatest desire. The preaching of the gospel judges all according to the body, that is, it judges human beings for emphasizing physical realities and pleasures more than spiritual things, and it judges humans for the things done in the body. The alternative is clear for God's people--when we live for God in the spirit, even while we exist in the body, we are genuine imitators and followers of Jesus. This is the goal of God's judgment.
This spiritual life for God alters our conduct toward others, but does not eliminate the possibility of suffering. Suffering because we deserve it may be expected. Suffering as a Christian declares God's praise. Commit yourself to him, and keep on doing what is right!
Do you think modern Christians would be less prone to sinful behaviors if we lived in persecution?
What unique challenges do today's Christians have with regard to avoiding sin?
What does this text say about peer pressure?
How could you each day commit your life to God?
How do we proactively do what is right, and not merely avoid what is wrong? What is the difference between these two ideas in your mind? Does one who merely avoids wrong automatically do what is right?
Heavenly Father, help us live life for your desires and not for our own desires. Help us use our bodily existence for spiritual purposes, and not for physical pleasures. Strengthen us as we strive to live according to your will in the Spirit. Help us as we seek to arm ourselves with Jesus' attitude and to avoid sin. In the name of Jesus the Christ, Amen.