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1 Peter 4:12-19: Suffering as a Christian

Peter’s discussion of suffering, which he  has woven throughout 1 Peter, comes to a climax in this section.  The thread of conduct that allows us to stand firm in God’s grace (1 Peter 5:12) and the thread that suffering does not mean you are outside of God’s grace (1 Peter 5:12) are tied together in these few verses (read about the importance of 1 Peter 5:12 here).

Expect Suffering

Peter begins in verse 12 by telling them not to be surprised by suffering. He can say this plainly now because he has already established that they were called “to do good in suffer, ” that Jesus is our example in how we handle suffering, and that their Christian conduct leads to suffering (1 Peter 2:21 and 4:4).  Therefore, Peter has made it clear that the Christian life will include suffering.  Thus Christians should not be surprised when they face it.

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What about Christian Boycotting?

 

Should Christian’s boycott? This comes up from time-to-time whenever companies openly support a position that runs contrary to Christian ethics. Let me share my thoughts.

First, there is nothing morally wrong with a Christian person following their conscience and not buying a product sold by a certain company. 

Second, it is wrong for a Christian to bind their choice to boycott on another Christian.  Boycotting, and knowing what to boycott, is not an easy issue.  There are numerous questions that must be asked and consistency in boycotting is very difficult.  Therefore it is possible for two Christians to look at the same company and for one to decide not to buy and for another to decide to buy.  One might not buy because they reason that the money will eventually go to a cause they are uncomfortable with.  The other might choose to buy because they reason they are buying the product, and have no control on what happens to the money beyond the initial purchase.  To me this is Romans 14 applied today, “let each one decide and let no one judge.”

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Hardest Thing to Do in Preaching: Preaching the Word

In 1 Peter 4, Peter lays out specific actions that Christians need to take as they prepare for the end (read more here).  In the list he urges Christians to use their talents to bring glory to God.   Peter divides talents into two categories: Speaking and Serving. He states that talents of service should be used to their full potential.  Those who speak should speak “as the Oracles of God.”

We do not use the phrase “oracles of God” very often.  Actually, I have never heard the phrase used in conversation. The only time in my life I’ve witnessed the phrase used is when reading Scripture or hearing a message that references this Scripture (and the few others that use the words).  But this simple modifier has a huge impact on the nature of preaching.  It is just as important of a text on preaching as is the more famous 2 Timothy 4.  It explains to those with the gift of speaking how that gift is to be administered.

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1 Peter 4:7-11: Conduct during Suffering

In verses 1-6 of chapter 4 Peter tells the Christians to “arm themselves” mentally for suffering.  He is convinced that this attitude will lead Christians to not only be able to deal with suffering, but also overcome sin.  He then reminds them of their old way of life that they should be avoiding.  This avoidance leads to suffering, but again Peter comforts them by reminding them that the judgment of men does not matter.  They might be judged in the flesh, but they will be judged by God alive (read more here).

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The State of the Church

Once a year the President of the United States stands before a joint session of congress and gives a speech describing the State of our Union.  The session is televised for all Americans who desire to watch. The speech begins with the simple statement reassuring that the union is strong. Then the President descirbes what happened the year before and provides his agenda for the coming year.

I’m writing this post not to say that I have the same authority and position in regards to the church that the President has in regards to the United States.  I am writing though as someone who studies American Christianity and the Scriptures. So I want to share with you my State of the (American) Church.

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