Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Current Study: 1 Peter
Today’s Topic: Where’s the Love?
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 4:19 (NIV) So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
Get ready to catch me. I’m about to get on a soapbox and when I do I sometimes fall. I need you to be ready to catch me. Today’s soapbox may not make me fall, but it may make you mad at me, which will feel to me like falling. But I must take the risk.
Throughout my study of Peter’s writings on suffering for the cause of Christ I have been challenged with how to make practical and personal application. How far are we to go in applying these words of Peter to our everyday lives? Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.
Today it became clearer to me as the Holy Spirit directed my mind to the things other writers in the Bible said about suffering and how to treat the people who cause it, including the words of Jesus. For example, the Apostle Paul said, Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Or the words of Jesus who said, You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
So why am I on this today? Well, Peter said that no matter what the circumstances or hardships, we are to continue to do good. Today I was reminded that we don’t apply that to our lives very well, and I am as guilty as the next guy. When someone has hurt us, or done something we think is wrong, we have this terrible tendency to love hate. Deep in the center of our flesh is a desire to put others down in an attempt to build ourselves up. It is a tragedy of the human heart that the biggest portion of our memory seems to be set aside for the storage of other people’s faults.
Want proof? Let me mention one name as an example – Brett Farve. Whether you’re a Packer fan or not, everyone seems to have formed an opinion of this guy. My question is – Why do our opinions of people dictate our actions towards them and our words about them? I thought as the messengers of God’s love we are to repay any and all hurt with help. I thought the Holy Spirit was clear when He said through Paul in Romans 12 that we are to consider others better than ourselves. Or later in Romans 15 when he says, We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. I am disappointed in myself and other Christians that we have so quickly fallen into the worldly habit of tearing others down rather than building them up.
Well, I think you see my point. We have not done a very good job of continuing to do good, especially when someone else’s bad affects us so deeply. We quickly fall into the trap of the flesh to build ourselves up at the expense of others. We allow our opinions of others to dictate our speech and actions. We let some perceived suffering justify the defense of our own position, and that defense usually involves some form of attack. We have moved from humility to hurt; from helping to harboring hate; from building up to butting heads; from honor and respect of others to honoring self above anyone else.
Where is the love of Christ in all of this? Why hasn’t the heart of Jesus overwhelmed us and filled us with true and consistent love? I think the reason is that we have gone from standing on a soapbox to sitting on a high horse. And that could cause a much bigger fall.