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God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Friday, December 20, 2013

December 20 - 1 Peter: Expect Persecutions for Living the Life of Christ

Today’s Reading: 1 Peter

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Suffering because you did something wrong is justice. Suffering because you do something right is expected.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Peter to the scattered:
Resurrection makes life worth it. Persecutions refine faith.
Live differently than before. Join the living Stone as God's Instruments.
Be good citizens. Use your freedom in Christ to do good.
Wives, develop inner beauty. Husbands, treat your wives well.
Suffer for being good, not bad. Baptism cleanses your conscience, not your body.
Leave your old life and love like nothing else.
God is there in difficult times but has high standards.
Leaders, please God and stay content with your current power.
The Devil wants to pounce, so stay alert. It won't last forever.
Embrace God's Truth!

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Persecution refines our faith.

Peter assures the dispersed Christians that their persecution is neither above God's Ability to save His Chosen People nor does it hurt their faith. Instead, their faith becomes stronger because it is tested. We learn through persecution what is essential to obey God and what is a rule we have added to "help" us get there. The refining power of fire makes us better people and more likely to set things right.
I would like to mention a pet peeve of mine, though. Some of the persecution Christians receive comes from our somewhat strange idea that we should proclaim every belief we have on everything topic to every person in the world. Our quest to make theology simple and thorough has led us to come out and tell people outside our sphere of influence every little belief we have about Jesus, God, the church, and everything else. Why do we do this? I can understand a group presenting their views to a visitor who wants to know, but I don't understand why Christians want to go on television and tell the world their particular view on a subject. It is unnecessary and only leads to more persecution—this time for angering others for having the wrong beliefs, not for setting things right. We should be persecuted because we help too many people, not because we decided to broadcast our views on communism, socialism, family values, homosexuality, racism, etc. to people who don't care about us. Tell these views, but keep them to your sphere of influence. The purpose of the Kingdom is to spread God's Influence over the entire world. That is not done by going on network news and complaining about the political topic de jour. We must learn to keep our opinions to ourselves unless around people within our sphere of influence. It is harder for a person to reject you and Jesus if a friend agonizes over a controversial stand right in front of them. We should expect persecution when we do give an answer to our hope, but we should not walk around goading others to persecute us.

We are in an enviable position.

As humans we have the limited ability to see God. We have faith that He exists. We live with the understanding that we can be wrong. The angels do not have that luxury. They are with God the entire time and thus will never experience faith. Living thousands of years after the events of the Bible took place helps us realize how much we need to trust God that what is here is His Way.

God is our Father—for both blessings and punishment.

God will not punish us for doing good. He will also never allow us to get by with doing evil. God has a high standard. This is why we go to the world and proclaim His Message. We want the world to live up to His Standard. We, too, will be held to that standard.

We live up to that standard for more than Heaven.

Some people obey God because they want to be in Heaven. Others obey because they do not want to go to Hell. Neither of these is a sufficient reason alone. We set things right because God paid for our punishment. We set things right because God is Love. We set things right because we should never tire of doing good. We set things right so our enemies will never have the ability to complain. We set things right to become instruments of God, shining light into dark places. Heaven will be a great place, no doubt, but we set things right for much greater reasons than that.

We should be fine, upstanding citizens, workers, and friends.

We are to respect authorities. We obey our managers/masters regardless of their respectability. We should use our freedom to exploit loopholes in laws to set things right, not for selfish gains. By doing these things we will bring honor to God and shut our enemies up. They won't be able to speak against us because many people will defend us—even godless people!

Baptism clears our conscience.

Baptism is meant to help us get past our past and become one of God's Ambassadors to the world. When we think of baptism beyond the magical binding-God-to-save-me act we realize it was meant for us, not us for it. Should God's Chosen People be baptized? Yes! Does that mean every single person in the world that has not been immersed is condemned to be forever without God? No.

Leaders are shepherds, not lords.

They are to help lead everyone to God's Way, not drive us in their way. They use tender words to sweetly push us to the right way. They do not give ultimatums or speak in "my way or the highway" language. God's Chosen Leaders show God's Way through example and encouragement, not pushing and threats.

Have you ever experienced an unexpected ally because you set things right?


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