Bible Reading– 1 Peter 3
I remember looking around the gym floor one day, and seeing grown ups like myself, grunting from the pain of carrying out the aggressive instructions of a young horse-like built man. I mean, we pay him money to inflict pain on us! It’s weird because if you think about it, these instructions could as well be a teacher punishing a primary school student for fighting in class, or a community mob descending on thief they’ve caught.
‘Up! Down! Up! Down!… Carry that! Don’t let me see you drop it for 60 seconds…’
Why would I pay my hard earned money to keep coming back to this guy? Why don’t I feel like a thief that was caught stealing? Why do I feel so much pain, but keep at it?
Context makes all the difference! Same actions, but different contexts.
It can be the same actions, but in some context, e get why.
In our reading today, Peter seems to be drumming this: check the context of your suffering!
This is so important in the day and age in which we live. It’s easy for everybody to jump out and say we live in difficult times, it’s easy to say the economy is hitting hard on everyone, it’s easy to say schools and career lines come with their difficulties, but contexts make the experience different from person to person.
I like that Peter starts out the chapter reminding us to keep up with some of the basic things that we feel the pain and strain in: wives submitting to their husbands (v1-2), dressing right and honourably (v 3-6) (yes it matters!) husbands understanding and honouring their wives (v 7), living right and compassionate with others (v 8-9) speaking right words and living in peace (10-11)
If we’ll be honest, any of these things can cause me to feel the strain and pain of living up to it. It’s not always convenient.
It’s right in this context that Peter introduces the suffering conversation. What is Christian suffering? It isn’t just about being in some Arab country and your head being sliced off. It’s really just about everything it costs you to be a follower of Christ. It can be the pain of the discipline of waking up early to pray, or the money or relationships you lost because you wont compromise your values, or the names you’re called, or even just the resources it costs you to put God first.
‘if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed’ 1 Peter 3:14 NKJV
I believe the invitation to us today is to re-evaluate the context of our suffering. Is it Christian suffering or just random bad-economy suffering? it for righteousness sake? When we suffer for righteousness sake, it puts a totally blessed to the same actions and circumstances that we face.
We might be alone, but we are not isolated. We are separated unto God.
We might feel the intensity, but we are not being punished. We are being prepared.
We are not victims of a system. We are victors in Jesus.
God is not out wickedly depriving us. He is lovingly deliberate about us.
Context makes you look at all you go through for righteousness sake and say ‘e get why’.
Today, I invite you to check the context of your suffering. Is it for the name of the Lord? Is it in your desire to live right? Is it in your pursuit of God’s purpose over your life?
Remember, like the coach in the gym, God is not just randomly letting you walk through things and face circumstances, he is targeted! He is lovingly walking you through a journey of building you and shaping you into all the beautiful desire that He has for your life.