We have a living hope!

#BornAgainToALivingHope #BornOfGodNotOfTheFlesh #AdoptedIntoTheFamilyOfGod.

Peter wrote to the Church in Asia Minor because they had bosses who were just tyrants. His admonition to them was not to

  1. begin a mass march or
  2. enter the marketplace and make it known to all who would listen that their master was horrific;
  3. not to enter social media and belittle every boss or person who had hurt their feelings; however, his directive to them was …

 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

Not only were they being abused by their bosses they were also being mistreated by their spouses – who were not Christians – It is important to note that apparently many of the Christians in Asia Minor were women and their husbands were not Christians. So, Peter admonished them to. . .

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 1 Peter 3:1.

We live in a social climate today when people are influenced by what their neighbors think about them, or even how their neighbors behave. It was not different during the time of Peter’s apostleship. He wrote to the Church in Asia Minor about the ridicule that they were experiencing from their neighbors and probably in the workplace in 1 Peter 4:14 Peter explained

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

On top of all of that the church was experiencing severe persecution.

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.  But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.  Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.  For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?  And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 1 Peter 4:12-18

Do the words above ring true to you? These Christians lived in an anti-Christian environment. Did Peter advise them to rally the democratic political machine – remember that Rome was a democracy-? No, he did not! We are facing the conundrum.  It is so easier to want to treat people the same way that they have treated you. I had to think about that this week!

  1. There is turning the other cheek and there is enabling people to be abusive toward you.
  2. There is turning the other cheek and there-there is turning to man to solve our societal problems that are really spiritual problems.

How can one experience the power of the cross in their relationships with others while enduring persecution, social injustice etc? Paul wrote to the Philippians in chapter 1 verse 1 and explained this to them

Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

“Fruit” indicates working through the power of love.  One can easily operate in the power of love when they are not

  1. being abused,
  2. chastised all the time,
  3. considered ‘powerless’
  4. social misfits
  5. being persecuted
  6. when their neighbors do not consider them “those weird leftists, rightists, evangelicals, or conservatives

However, to operate in and through the power of love means being able to do endure all of the above without lashing out because “I have just about had all that I can take so I am going to tell you what I think about you!” The minute we draw that line in the sand we have lost folks. In 1 Peter 2:11-12 Peter continues that when times are the toughest that is when love must rule

 Dearly, beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, [Remember we are citizens of heaven not of any earthly realm or country.] abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;  Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Peter clarified the spiritual frame of mind that one should have in these scenarios

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 

  • Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:  
  • Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; w
  • hen he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

WOW right?

1 Peter 4:8 proposes the end of the matter

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. “

All sufferings, persecutions, etc., mean nothing because we have a living hope. Hebrews 6:11 states

“And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:”

Not a hope at the end but a hope now that will take us “unto the end’ of all things. Our hope is alive and well that is why James 2:20-26 tells us

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. [Who lived a more hope filled life than Abraham?] Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers and had sent them out another way?  [She was hope filled!] For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

Finally my brethren, I know that this mantra is probably becoming annoying to some, but I cannot say it often enough our hope is not a languished hope, a dead hope, and a hope that we will realize in the world tomorrow.

It is a hope fueled by love. As we grow in our love of our Father we will learn to be hopeful and translate that love in actions toward others – all others!

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