I Peter 4
When I graduated high-school and went to my Prom I was invited to several ‘after-prom’ parties. I knew that there would be drinking and other activities at these parties that I didn’t care to participate in. I declined several invitations and have never been sorry for that decision. What I did instead , was go with a few friends after prom to Dairy Queen and have ice cream sundaes and then back to my house where we watched a movie until the wee hours of the morning. My classmates all knew that I was a Christian and I most of all wanted to stay true to my Christian values as would be pleasing to Christ. In 1 Peter 4 the apostle Peter reminds the early Christians to stay true to their righteous values in a world that did not promote those values, amongst a people who would not understand or value their decision to behave righteously.
Our culture today is filled with sensuality (notice how little clothing some people and models wear), lust (always wanting more), and a constant appeal to the senses that drinking alcohol will make you popular, relaxed, fun to be around, etc. Now I’m not proposing that everyone go around in turtlenecks and never have a glass of wine here – But by being sensuous , lusty, or intoxicated we dishonor God and his good desires for our lives. People and friends may make fun of you for not choosing to participate in these activities but the apostle Peter reminds us in verse 5 that everyone will have to give an account before the Lord about what they chose to do, and how they conducted themselves in this life.
He goes on to encourage the early believers and us to lead lives of righteousness exercising good judgment, being diligent in prayer, loving others, being hospitable and doing what God has gifted us to do by His spirit for the encouragement and uplifting of others. In verse 11 he reminds us that God will give us the strength to do these things so that He will be glorified through our lives of righteousness.
We all one day will stand before the Lord to be judged for our actions. In the last part of the chapter we are told that we should not be found suffering for sins committed but rather that if we are found suffering it should be for the cause of following Christ in an ungodly world. We can trust God to be the righteous judge, for He is our creator and we can entrust our souls to Him.
In Acts 21 we see Paul as he is heading towards Jerusalem. He wants to report to the apostles what has been done during his ministry. While on his way there he is warned that he will be beaten by the Jews and handed over to the Romans if he enters Jerusalem. This does not deter Paul and he says “For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus”. When Paul arrived in Jerusalem he met with James and the other elders of the church and reported to them about the gentiles that had come to Christ during his ministry. They rejoiced with him, but were worried that he would be attacked by the zealous Jews in Jerusalem because they thought that he was telling people to forsake the Law of Moses. In order to prove to them that he was not preaching that he went through a purifying ritual in the temple that lasted seven days. Even with this display of acceptance for the Law the Jews still mobbed him and beat him and turned him over to the Romans.
There are many people today who have a preconceived notion of what Christians believe and will not believe you about your faith even when you show them with your actions. I have had people tell me various versions of, “You are a Christian, therefore you believe/do such and such, and you are wrong”. And it doesn’t matter what you say to them, they are not there for a conversation, they just want to tell you that you are wrong and they are right. Now I wasn’t beat in the streets for my beliefs, but it can be discouraging and intimidating. As Christians we need to be like Paul and listen to Christ, not our detractors. We all have Paul’s boldness to thank for our Christian culture, because it was his boldness that enabled Christianity to be spread to the western world. I just hope that years from now people can look back and praise God for our boldness in following him.
In Acts 15-21 we see the hardships and adventures that Paul had while he was preaching the gospel to cities in modern day Turkey and Greece. In many ways these hardships that he endured seem like something that would only happen far away or to missionaries in a third world country. Historically we have not had much anti-Christian public in the US, but that has been changing for a while now. It is no longer socially acceptable in some areas of the US to be a Christian, and is frowned upon to voice Christian values. I think that during my life these situations that Paul found himself in will become more and more relevant to modern Christians as we are continually more and more ostracized from society for our beliefs. It will help us to stay strong to the end if we have a bold faith and a strong prayer life so that we are in tune with the leading of the Holy Spirit just as Paul was.
Thanks to all who have read along this week, I really enjoyed studying these chapters and hope that you grew from this as well.
I’ll see you around,