As many of you know, Scott has been teaching and preaching 1 Peter. In his letter, Peter is writing to people who are going through a lot and who would continue to go through a lot simply because they wear the name of Christ. It is easy to see how christians suffered for their beliefs and the way they lived. It was even present in their everyday lives, not just martyrdom, but the way they were treated. Perhaps they were unable to buy goods from some non-christians, or perhaps people wouldn’t purchase their items. Whatever it was, these christians did not have an easy life. They suffered on a daily basis because of their beliefs. They truly were exiles. Later on, people gave up all of their earthly possessions in order to ‘suffer’ for Christ. Now, when we apply this letter to ourselves, while we’re sitting in our air conditioned buildings on padded pews, we seem to think we too are suffering terrible things. This thought really disturbs me because as christians today, in the United States, I really don’t think we suffer for our beliefs.
As christians, we purchase whatever we want from whomever we want. We eat whatever we desire, and participate in whatever we think is fun. We live exactly like the rest of the world except we go to worship when we don’t have some other activity planned. This really bothers me. Notice, I’m including myself. If you’ve been in my home, you know we have some really nice things. We wear nice clothes, we drive a nice car, and like to have fun just like everyone else. When reading and studying 1 Peter, I am VERY uncomfortable. For example, in 1 Peter 1:17, Peter says, “…live in reverent fear during the time of your exile.” Exile? I don’t know about you, but I look around at how I’ve been so blessed and I don’t see exile. I know I’m not in heaven now, but I really don’t see me living the life of an exile.
I wonder if I would live more like an exile, would I suffer more like an exile? I wonder if all christians did these things, would we see the church grow? I wonder if we gave up more, would we be more excited about leaving this world? I wonder if when faced with death, we would be able to say, “to die is gain” and truly mean it?
“The whole life of Christ was a cross and a martyrdom, and do you seek rest and enjoyment for yourself? You deceive yourself, you are mistaken if you seek anything but to suffer, for this mortal life is full of miseries and marked with crosses on all sides. Indeed, the more spiritual progress a person makes, so much heavier will he frequently find the cross, because as his love increases, the pain of his exile also increases.” -Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Book 2, Chapter 12