Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: What Are You Living For?
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 4:2 As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
During a Peter, Paul and Mary concert years ago, in the middle of a comic skit, Paul made an insightful and disturbing observation. In the 1950’s there was a magazine called Life. Then came People magazine. Now we have one called Us. What next? A magazine called Me?
Little did he know how prophetic his words would be, for now we have a magazine called Self. How indicative and indicting of a world infatuated and preoccupied with self. How contrary to the example and life-giving principles of Jesus Christ. He clearly taught that life is not to be found in living for self, but rather in the giving of self in the service of God and others! Jesus said that only by denying self and losing this life will we find true life. It is only by being willing to suffer the loss of all things earthly that we will experience the present reality of all things heavenly. But how far are we to take this idea of suffering for the sake of Christ?
Prema limped into the South India room where Linda Olson, a short-term missionary, waited to counsel teenage girls. Prema’s brown eyes were full of tears. As she told her story, it was learned that when her devout Hindu family heard that she’d become a Christian, they beat her severely and forbade her to attend after-school Bible club meetings. Still, the 13-year-old studied the Scripture whenever possible.
“Should I obey my parents and continue to wear the vermilion dot on my forehead [symbolizing allegiance to the god Shiva]?” she asked. “Or should I refuse and risk another beating?” She raised her sari and exposed a leg badly swollen from beating.
Olson was stunned. She still had a “westernized” viewpoint of what living for Jesus meant. She really believed it should bring goodness, wholeness, success, fulfillment, and laughter. After fumbling through some now questionable advice emphasizing the Lord’s knowledge of her heart regardless of her external actions, she went back to her Indian host family and cried.
How far would you go to surrender the desires of this life to live completely in and for the will of God? What kind of life has Jesus asked us to lead if it involves beatings rather than peace? After all, Jesus told us to expect this when He said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” But are we really willing to live our lives for the will of God rather than for the satisfaction of self?
Author Phillips Brooks wrote, “So long as a man is living for himself and honoring himself, there is an association, however remote it may be, with all the lowest forms of selfishness in which men have lived; but the moment a man begins to live in genuine adoration of the absolute good, and worship God, he parts company from all these lower orders of human life …. When you say to God, ‘O God, take me, for the highest thing that I can do with myself is to give myself to Thee,’ you sweep into the current of the best, the holiest, and the most richly human of our humanity, which in every age has dedicated itself to God.”
So let me ask you again, how far would you go to surrender the desires of this life to live completely in and for the will of God? The Apostle Peter says that result of taking on Christ’s attitude of suffering and sacrifice will be the complete sacrifice of all human desire to satisfy self. So the real question is not how far you would go to suffer for Jesus, but whether or not you want to truly be like Him at all.