November 10 (Year Six)
4 Since the Anointed suffered in the flesh, prepare yourselves to do the same—anyone who has suffered in the flesh for the Lord is no longer in the grip of sin— so that you may live the rest of your life on earth controlled not by earthly desires but by the will of God.
The reality of suffering in the world causes many to question the existence of an all-powerful and all-loving God. A God of power and love is expected to be both able and willing to remove suffering from our lives. Ultimately, God will make all things new and end suffering, but for now God allows it and calls us to rejoice in the midst of it. Though we may not understand it, pain and suffering have a purpose in God’s plan, and our Creator is not immune to it. Through Jesus God enters into our suffering; now we are called to enter into His.
You have already wasted enough time living like those outsiders in the society around you: losing yourselves in sex, in addictions and desires, in drinking and lawless idolatry, in giving your time and allegiance to things that are not godly. When you don’t play the same games they do, they notice that you are living by different rules. That’s why they say such terrible things about you. Someday they, too, will have to give an account of themselves to the One who judges the living and the dead. (This is why the good news had to be brought to those who are dead so that although they are judged in the flesh, they might live in the spirit in the way that pleases God.)
We are coming to the end of all things, so be serious and keep your wits about you in order to pray more forcefully. Most of all, love each other steadily and unselfishly, because love makes up for many faults. Show hospitality to each other without complaint. Use whatever gift you’ve received for the good of one another so that you can show yourselves to be good stewards of God’s grace in all its varieties. If you’re called upon to talk, speak as though God put the words in your mouth; if you’re called upon to serve others, serve as though you had the strength of God behind you. In these ways, God may be glorified in all you do through Jesus the Anointed, to whom belongs glory and power, now and forever. Amen.
Dear ones, don’t be surprised when you experience your trial by fire. It is not something strange and unusual, but it is something you should rejoice in. In it you share the Anointed’s sufferings, and you will be that much more joyful when His glory is revealed. If anyone condemns you for following Jesus as the Anointed One, consider yourself blessed. The glorious Spirit of God rests on you. But none of you should ever merit suffering like those who have murdered or stolen, meddled in the affairs of others or done evil things. But if you should suffer for being a Christian, don’t think of it as a disgrace, as it would be if you had done wrong. Praise God that you’re permitted to carry this name.
People often suffer because of poor decisions that result in shame, but the people of God face persecution for their faithfulness that leads to honor and glory.
For the time for judgment has come, and it is beginning with the household of God. If it is starting with us, what will happen to those who have rejected God’s good news? It is written in Proverbs,
If it is hard for the righteous ones to be saved,
what will happen to the ungodly and the sinners?
So even if you should suffer now for doing God’s will, continue doing good and trust your futures to the judgment and mercy of a faithful Creator.
5 Now for the elders of the church. I want to encourage you. As you know, I am an elder, too, like you. I have witnessed firsthand the sufferings of the Anointed One as well as shared in the glories which are soon to be revealed. When you shepherd the flock God has given you, watch over them not because you have to but because you want to. For this is how God would want it not because you’re being compensated somehow but because you are eager to watch over them. Don’t lead them as if you were a dictator, but lead your flock by example; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will be crowned with honor that will shine brightly forever. You who are younger in the faith: do as your elders and leaders ask. All of you should treat each other with humility, for as it says in Proverbs,
God opposes the proud
but offers grace to the humble.
So bow down under God’s strong hand; then when the time comes, God will lift you up. Since God cares for you, let Him carry all your burdens and worries.
Humility is rarely a virtue that our culture values. We’re trained from an early age to show our strengths and hide our weaknesses. This type of thinking also spills over into our models of leadership, as we learn to dictate to others how they should perform. Peter, however, says that we should be humble in our relationships with one another and not lead as dictators. In fact, this humility before one another and God is actually the position of the greatest strength. Our enemy desires to consume us, but we find strength to resist him when we are dependent upon God for His strength.
Most importantly, be disciplined and stay on guard. Your enemy the devil is prowling around outside like a roaring lion, just waiting and hoping for the chance to devour someone. Resist him and be strong in your faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are fellow sufferers with you. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of grace who has called you [to His everlasting presence] through Jesus the Anointed will restore you, support you, strengthen you, and ground you. For all power belongs to God, now and forever. Amen.
Silvanus, whom I consider a trustworthy and faithful brother, is carrying this brief letter to encourage you and to testify that here is the true grace of God. Hold on to it.
The church here in Babylon chosen by God together with you, sends you greetings. So does my son in the faith Mark.
Greet each other with a kiss of love, and may peace come to all who follow Jesus the Anointed.