1 Peter 4 begins reminding us that we will suffer and it is all about our attitude when that happens. “Arm yourself with the same way of thinking” as Jesus had. We will have difficult days – we will struggle and suffer – but that does not define us. What does is how we respond when those challenges come our way. We should not respond by whining and saying that life is not fair. We should face trial just like Jesus – head on and fully prepared. Peter tells us “do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you”. But he goes on to say “rejoice”. Now that is a different attitude for sure. So often we want to have a pity party when things don’t go our way. We want to go into hiding and feel like life is against us. There will be trials and temptations – and our response needs to mirror that of Jesus – not loving the fact that suffering is happening – but realizing there is a purpose for it and rejoicing in the cleansing it can do in our life if we deal with it God’s way. “If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God”. Do you see a recurring theme here? Rejoice….glorify God…..same way of thinking. The key to dealing with suffering is how we respond to it. It is not whether or not we will face it – we will. But how will we respond when it comes our way?
Peter reminds us that “the time is past” for “living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry”. Those things are part of the old nature and must be put away. The key is that when we walk from the ways of the world others will be “surprised when you do not join them”. Our life should separate us from the status quo. Too often I hear Christ Followers say they just want to fit in – they don’t want to stand out and be different from those around them. So they participate in activities that are not pleasing to God. They continue living their lives like they did before Jesus. That cheapens our salvation my friends. Jesus went to the cross to change our lives for eternity – not to give us a pass to keep on sinning. Peter reminds us that we have to put the old way behind us. I often get questioned about why I don’t join in around things that most people do – and my answer is that I don’t think that is what God wants me to spend my time on. It isn’t an attitude of superiority when we don’t join in – it is standing apart because God has called us to be different.
It isn’t because we don’t want to be “judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does”. We need to live the way God does. That is our charge. So what does that look like? Peter tells us it is “self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling”. The goal of how we live should not be fitting in – but loving others as God loved us. It is about relationship built upon God’s love. And part of the way we do that is how we serve. Peter says it this way: “as each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace”. God has equipped us to make a difference. He has gifted each of us with gifts – not for our own benefit – but to serve others. It is about using what God has entrusted to us to make a difference in the lives of those in our patch. How are you doing with that? Are you serving others? Are you living God’s way in your patch?