Letters to the Family of God
by Joe Franzone | October 19, 2023 | Pastor's Blog
October 19, 2023
Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires but rather for the will of God.
Her (Joni Erickson Tata) ministry is Christ’s likeness, that is, through constantly the lens and the chair of suffering. And so, you know, I didn’t get a chance to say this…But, you know, I wanted to say, when I listened to someone like that, first I think, am I a Christian? But the second I think I want to know Jesus, I want to know Jesus more.
These are the words of a Pastor of good standing for many years after hearing Joni Erickson Tata speak.
The friends of God suffer.
There are many reasons why a person, Christian or not, may want to make better decisions in their life. There are many reasons why Christians do not want to live their earthly life for evil human desires. The message translates Vs.2 as that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way…being tyrannized by what you want—which is a good translation.
For all the different reasons why, we should note that Peter speaks here not simply of making better decisions for ourselves but of living for something—the will of God (Vs. 2). Only the Gospel of grace in our Lord Jesus Christ gives us real power from the Holy Spirit to surrender our rights and live for Christ.
Many religious people believe they would not suffer if they made better decisions. It was a common thought even in Jesus’s day (John 9:3). Therefore, their obedience was only really for themselves.
However, Peter says that to suffer for belief in God's will is to follow in the footsteps of the sufferings of Christ. It is why we are told to arm ourselves (1 Peter 4:1) with this reality.
To understand suffering as a result of our obedience. To embrace it as a gift, a sign of God’s favor, and even a sign of His sanctifying friendship may seem a bit old-fashioned, or how losers talk, those who cannot cut it.
Some of the standard expectations of our day are from the prosperity-gospel groups, where health and wealth, not pain and hardship, are seen as the signs of God’s favor and friendship. Alternatively, even moralistic teaching can assume right up front with the question of what the person did wrong when suffering comes. That was the scandal of the cross—only guilty people hang.
In the Old Testament, the fertility cults were concerned only with productivity in people, animals, land, and economic prosperity. Be good so they could have good—an incredibly self-centered way to worship and live.
Peter would agree with Psalm 40:8; I delight to do your will, oh God. For in the Gospel, we surrender our rights and live for someone and something infinitely better—our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who is not a means to our ends but life itself.
God bless you. You are perfectly loved.