Saturday 26 March 2016

Bible Book:
1 Peter

1 Peter 4:1-8 Saturday 26 March 2016

Psalm: Psalm 24


"Therefore" in verse 1 refers back a few verses, to 1 Peter 3:18 -"For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous forthe unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to deathin the flesh, but made alive in the spirit." This idea of Christ'ssuffering being for the sake of others, less worthythan him, gives some sharpness to the idea of his followers having"the same intention". They are not only to be willing to suffer,but are to welcome the redemptive opportunities offered bysuffering.

The writer of 1 Peter does not encourage their readers to seekout suffering, looking for opportunities to be a martyr. Throughthe letter, they are called to do what they can to liveharmoniously with their families and communities, so that they willset a good example and avoid unnecessary suffering. But the writeralso recognises that the simple fact of living a Christian lifewill often lead them into conflict with authorities or neighbours.So they must be ready for this, and welcome it as a sign that theyare following faithfully in Christ's footsteps. If they suffer fortheir Christian identity, it will be evidence that they have"finished with sin" (v. 1).

Verses 2 and 3 contrast the future with the past. Looking backat their lives, the readers may find that they have lived in a waywhich is not pleasing to God. Looking forward, to the rest of their'earthly lives', their lives must be oriented towards the will ofGod. This will invite comment, setting them apart from their formercompanions, but God's is the judgement that really counts, and inGod's judgement they will have proved themselves to be spirituallyalive and well.

The Greek word translated 'end' in verse 7 can have the positivesense 'completion' or 'conclusion', or the more negative sense of'termination'. Often, this comes down to a question of perspective!But either way, this is a time of reckoning, and so a life of lovebecomes all the more crucial as the end approaches.

To Ponder

  • Holy Saturday is in a sense a day of waiting - a pause betweendeath and resurrection, suffering and glory. In some ways, so isthis earthly life. How far does this passage offer any comfort,support or advice for living in that 'limbo' state? And what mightthat be?
  • Verse 3 describes what the writer sees as the marks ofgodlessness in his time. What are the equivalents today? What waysof life or attitudes do you find in our world that we, asChristians, might want to hold back from, or even challenge? How dowe ensure that we're not merely opposing fun?
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