Good Life Journal - 1 Peter 4
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. 1 Peter 4:1-2
I wonder if I got some thinking mixed up about suffering, affliction, and stuff like that.
When I read this first verse the first thing I thought of was a line from an old sitcom: "What'cha talking about, Willis??
Trying to read the Scriptures thoroughly and deeply takes some effort-especially when I run across something that makes me squint and tilt my head. Peter says (in cadence) "...therefore since Christ suffered in the flesh..." and what follows as a direction, "...arm yourself (the singular...ME) with the same way of thinking." This requires EFFORT to assimilate into my discipleship plan because I don't want to suffer.
"Arm yourself": Reads like suffering is a weapon or at least a defensive posture. Flip this into the "Whole armor of God" in Ephesians and what do I have?
I think what I have is the logical extension and application of the Gospel-that afflictions are not to be avoided. Maybe not welcomed...but certainly embraced with thankfulness for the Mercy of God.
In Romans 8:29 it says that God's intention is to "conform us to the Image of the Son." Also the scripture indicates that the servant is not above their Master (Matt 10:24-25). Therefore, when afflictions and sufferings come, isn't it reasonable to see an opportunity for holiness?
Tough stuff to think about. Could looking to avoid suffering/affliction kind of thwarts God's intention for our growth and maturity? Maybe. How would I know what to do?
One particular tool is the local Church and specifically cultivating friends in the Faith. We are not meant to grow in a lonely vacuum nor is the once a week hour or two sufficient for improving maturity in Christ. In the next chapter Peter talks about the "End of all Things" and how to respond. Breaking bread, having pizza and a soft drink can start a good path to growing in Christ.
Paul wrote Timmy: "Practice these things; immerse yourself in them so that all might see (be able to observe) your progress." (1 Tim 4:15a) Nothing strange here-a good old straightforward directive.
Reader: Go get'um.
Father: Please help me practice the things you are doing in me. Prevent me from avoiding them. Give me the gumption to act on Your whispers-the whispers I long for from you. Tune my ear to Your Voice. Time for pizza, Father. Spirit-do Your thing in my and our hearts. AMEN