Friday 13 November 2015

Bible Book:
1 Peter

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered has finished with sin).” (v. 1)

1 Peter 4:1-8 Friday 13 November 2015

Psalm: Psalm 124


People often struggle with the traditional words of the CovenantService in the Methodist Worship Book which say "...put me to suffering". This is presumablybecause it seems to imply that God may cause suffering, and we areaccepting that God has the right to do so. Verse 1 seems to saysomething similar and to imply that it will stop us fromsinning.

But we must ask ourselves if we have ever met anybody who hasn'tsuffered in some way. The reality is that everyone has and willsuffer, and presumably if we believe in an all powerful God, thenGod does allow this to happen. The question then is not 'Will wesuffer?' but rather, 'When we do suffer, how will we respond?' Willwe respond as Christ did in the Garden of Gethsemane and trust Godin the midst of this suffering or will we seek to do our own will,protect ourselves and divert our pain onto others? And it seemscorrect to say that we are talking here of the ordinary sufferingof illness, accident and human cruelty as well as persecution forour faith.

Does this mean that we should not protest if our suffering iscaused by another? Clearly not, as 1Peter 3:15-16 suggests. Nor should we assume that apassive acceptance of all suffering is best. The book of Jobdiscusses this issue very thoroughly and Job is certainly notrebuked for his questioning. However, there is something importantabout the attitude of acceptance when facing any form of sufferingin this life.

The rest of this section again has a call to holiness andoutlines what is not holy living before we come across thechallenge of verse 6. Who are the dead who the gospel wasproclaimed to? There are three possible answers:

1. The spirits referred to in 1Peter 3:19.
2. Those who are physically alive but spiritually dead.
3. Those who heard the gospel, responded in faith and have sincedied.

Space does not permit a discussion of these options so it isprobably best to read a commentary and come to one's ownconclusions!

To Ponder

  • What if anything have you learnt from suffering?
  • Read the Methodist Covenant Prayer and notice howyou respond to the words. 
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