4 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. 2 As a result, they don’t live the rest of their human lives in ways determined by human desires but in ways determined by God’s will.
8 Above all, show sincere love to each other, because love brings about the forgiveness of many sins. 9 Open your homes to each other without complaining. 10 And serve each other according to the gift each person has received, as good managers of God’s diverse gifts. 11 Whoever speaks should do so as those who speak God’s word. Whoever serves should do so from the strength that God furnishes. Do this so that in everything God may be honored through Jesus Christ. To him be honor and power forever and always. Amen.
The New Interpreters study bible speaks very highly of the the First Letter of Peter saying, “it is one of the New Testaments’ most beautiful and compelling books. Its profound Christology, vision of the church, and ardent instruction on Christian life in the world, richly express the meaning of the gospel. That seems like an apt description of today’s scripture.
Verses 1 and 2 describe a way of thinking that reflects the triumphant suffering of Christ in Christ’s death on the cross. If the Christian is armed with the goal of being delivered from sin, and that goal is achieved through his or her death, the threat and experience of death are precious (cf. Rom. 7:5, 18; 1 Cor. 1:21; 15:42, 49). The greatest weapon that the enemy has against the Christian, the threat of death, is therefore not effective.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Christian who lived out Peter’s words and Christ’s action. If you aren’t familiar with him here is a brief summary of who he was and why his life and work live on today. A theologian, Bonhoeffer is often invoked in support of action. Decrying the “cheap grace” of the German church, Bonhoeffer heralded “costly grace” — a grace that might cost a Christian his or her very life.
After Hitler rose to power Bonhoeffer left his post at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and his new fiancée, to return to Nazi Germany. He would soon be accused of joining the plot to assassinate the Führer and spend two years in prison. He was executed in a concentration camp in April 1945. When he died he famously remarked to another prisoner, “This is the end — but for me, the beginning.”
Verse 8 brings us to action perhaps more comfortably within our grasp? The NKJV translation uses “fervent love” instead of “sincere love” to show how strong Peter wanted our love to be and from that to achieve great compassion and forgiveness.
Verses 9 and 10 identify Christian virtues such as hospitality and service. In Peter’s day love was practical and included opening one’s home and caring for others is need. Note that in verse 10 each of us is said to have received a gift from God and that gift is to be used with loving concern for others.
Verse 11 finds Peter saying that when we speak we should do so as if we are speaking God’s Word and when we serve we should do so with the strength that God has given to us.
by Clarence Beverage
For Pondering & Prayer
In Pastor Joe’s message this past Sunday he spoke about Paul inviting the church in Corinth into an opportunity to exercise a trusting relationship with God and with one another by adopting a cheerful and joyful attitude toward giving and serving. Hickory nuts were the metaphor for sowing generously, bringing abundance both in nature and through God’s Word. God has provided us the power to go beyond our comfort zones and in love find the compassion, caring, energy, and unique individual gift, which bring abundance.
What gift has God given you as a person?
Are you comfortable, and at peace, knowing that God has made each of us unique and you only need seek God’s presence in your life, to be fulfilled, and not be distracted by worldly perceptions and expectations?
Where do you find yourself in seeing blessings?
Prayer: Lord, help us to know and believe that you created each person to be unique which makes us individuals. Through your Spirit help us to feel your presence and love and from that be strong in you. Give us the humble and loving nature of Jesus so that we can appreciate people like Bonhoeffer, who make amazing sacrifices, without feeling that we fall short. Amen.