"The Attitude of Suffering"
Our attitude toward suffering for what is right should be the same as Jesus. It really is an extension of the lesson of baptism, for this is about death to self and living for Christ. Don't be surprised at how the world sees your Christian walk.
The Attitude of Suffering
(1 Pet. 4:1-6)
A. As we move through this section of 1 Peter, I want to start by reminding you a little of our last lesson on Baptism. Baptism, is the process of dying to self and being born again, or living for Jesus. When we are baptized we put to death the old man of sin.
B. Paul tells us these words in Col. 3:1-11. You see, before giving your life to Christ, each of us used to walk in some type of sin. But when we were baptized we died to that way of life and now we live by the Spirit of God.
C. As God’s people we are strangers and foreigners on the earth. As strangers, we suffer. But God gives us his grace and power. God give us the help of Jesus, the one who knows that it is like to suffer. He also incarnates his help in human beings. He makes us a church, a family, the house of God. We are all in this together. Pain, loss, discrimination, ridicule are no longer something we have to bear alone. We find strength in one another by bearing the load of each other and encouraging each other to look to Jesus. This congregation offers collective classes, small group studies, individual Bible studies, two worship services every Sunday to give you opportunities have the family that we all need.
D. This morning we must ask ourselves, “How much commitment does it take to be a Christian?” Christianity is much more than an academic exercise or an experiential happening – it is a lifestyle. God wants more than rote obedience, he desires the heart. We can’t just cruise on minimum – hoping that is just enough to get us to heaven. Let’s start now by examine the text.
I. The Commitment of Christ (verses 1-2)
A. THERFORE! Every time you see that in your Bible you need to connect what has just been said with what is being said. In light of Jesus dying for our sins and that in the waters of baptism we are saved through Christ, now understand the depth of that commitment of what it means to suffer in the body.
B. ARM YOURSELVES. That is a military term. Put on your armor and take up your weapons. Our willingness to suffer for doing what is right is evidence of the same commitment to God that Jesus has. It is evidence that we are no longer interested in living a life of sin. What is the evidence that your life is committed to Christ? There is a pointed question.
C. Suffering is not the biggest problem we face. The biggest problem we face is the temptation to forget where our home is. We face the constant battle in ourselves between this world and God’s world. Arm yourself with the same attitude that Jesus showed. The Hebrew writer (5:8) says that Jesus learned obedience through his suffering. Suffering is also a teaching tool for us.
D. Our attitude towards suffering for being a Christian is a part of our spiritual warfare. This attitude is a willingness to die to sin and live for God. There is a sense of urgency in these verses. It is easy for the suffering Christian to walk away from that pain and go back to the worldly way of life. But we are dead to sin. We don’t have to live in it any longer. Christ suffered for you, now it is time for us to walk in his steps.
II. Living Like A Stranger (vs. 3-6)
A. Here you are today, wanting to live the Christian life, dedicating yourself to Jesus and this body, and tomorrow you head back to work, back to the grindstone of life and what do you think it will be like? Listen! (verses 3-4)
B. We have spent enough time in the past living like the world, now is the time to live the new lift. You are free from all that junk and the guilt that goes along with it. You are released from the bondage of sin and death. As a Christian you have better life and a better home. But your old friends disagree.
C. “What has happened to you? Do you think you are better than us? Are you too good for us now that you are a Jesus-freak? What kind of cult did you join?” This is the type of abuse they heap upon you.
D. Parenting is not easy. We trying to limit things our kids do, not because they are wrong, but because they take away from the time we choose to spend doing other things. But there are people that want to question your parenting skills and call you anti-social.
E. But listen to what Peter says in verse 5. They will have to give an account to him who judges the living and the dead. We might have to face some injustice in this life, but there will come a day when those people will stand before God as judge, not you or me. They will give an account of their words and actions just like the rest of us.
III. Attitude of Suffering
A. No one likes pain. But suffering has a way of teaching us lessons that peace and tranquility don’t. Suffering forces us to grow deeper in our faith and commitment and we know the price that is being paid. Suffering teachings us the need for accountability and for community.
B. The wicked do not believe that they will have to give an account in this life or the next. David writes about the way they think in Ps. 10:2-6. Paul makes a point clear that I want to close with. Listen to what he tells Timothy in 1 Tim 5:24, “The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.”
C. Not everyone will get caught in this life who bring harm into your life. But don’t despair. God will still bring them into account. 1 Thes. 1:6 says that God will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you are troubled.
A. Stay strong in the Lord. When the times of suffering come because of your faith, think back to your baptism, and remember that you gave up this life in order to gain the next. Stay strong in the Lord. Never forget that He is judge and will bring justice to those persecute his children.
B. Don’t quit when the world wants you to come back to them and leave the church family. Don’t quit when it gets tough. Look to Jesus who understood suffering and walk in his steps.
C. Come to the cross. Kneel at the cross, Christ will meet you there. He intercedes for you. Will you come even now as we stand and sing?