Bible Reading: 1 Peter 4
Some years ago, I was driving in a bit of traffic. I typically hate traffic, and I’m always trying to think of my ways around it or out of it. I noticed some of the cars in front of me making turns, seemingly to pass some other way. I made the turn too and followed. Sadly it didn’t end well for me. Apparently, the couple of cars that I followed were simply passing some back end to their destination which was far from my route.
It really came clear to me how true following must be much more than just being around another. It must be more than just even tracing another’s steps. It must be an alignment with the purpose of another. There is a huge difference between a car behind me in traffic and a car behind me on a convoy.
Time reveals the difference!
We read yesterday about checking the context of our suffering. We considered how in the subject of Christian suffering, it is not so much the specifics of the actions or circumstances that we face, as much as it is the context that places definition to the actions. It may look like the same thing on the outside, but when we consider the context, it changes our response to it.
Peter continues extensively with that thought in today’s reading, but he starts the chapter out with a critical instruction:
Therefore, since Christ suffered as a human, you should also arm yourselves with his way of thinking. This is because whoever suffers is finished with sin. 1 Peter 4:1 CEB
Peter introduces the big key here: are you following Christ in the conversation of Christian suffering?
Remember that to follow is more than just being around another. It is more than just doing the same things that someone else does at a surface level. To follow is to be aligned with the purpose of another.
Peter encourages us to ‘arm ourselves’ with Christ’s way of thinking! In fact, he goes on to encourage us to ‘rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings’ (v 13).
Why? We see the alignment of purpose.
What Peter demonstrates is that Christian suffering is one of the ways that God will bring us into such a oneness and alignment with Christ.
Notice that It is in this conversation of following Christ in the context of Christian suffering that we cease from sin (v 1), we live for the will of God (v 2), we are delivered from a vain life (v 3-4), we get to serve others as good and faithful stewards (v9-11), we partake in Christ’s glory (v 13).
How does God bring us into all of this? He aligns us with Christ through the instrumentality of Christian suffering. Remember that Christian suffering is not first of all about any bad things happening. It is simply everything it takes in your context to follow Jesus- from the disciplines you embrace, to the attitude of society to you, to the costs you incur, and so on.
God uses our Christian suffering to align us in oneness with Christ.
My invitation to you today is that in the place of Christian suffering in your context, deliberately be minded about Christ. Consciously think about the fact that God is using this to align me in intimacy with Christ- His suffering and His glory! Don’t merely be around Christ and Christian stuff like a car stuck in traffic. Be deeply embracing an alignment with His purpose and way of thinking- His suffering and His glory!
So you should strengthen yourselves with the same kind of thinking Christ had 1 Peter 4:1 ERV
Are you merely around Christ and His stuff? Are you merely around church and christians? Are you merely a keen admirer of Christian music and Christian behaviour?
Will time reveal a follower of Christ or a fan of Christ?