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Whenever possible our family sits around the table for morning coffee, reads the Bible and talks “application.” This morning the Scripture raised was 1 Peter 3 & 4. As often occurs, a Scripture that had been read many times before took on new life. “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves with the same resolve…” 1 Peter 4:1. Yes, “therefore” means read 1 Peter 3, but 13-22 should be enough. I’ll wait…
Done? You can see why chapter 3 is where the focus usually lies, but the application that excited our discussion was “…arm yourself with the same resolve…” What a word! Resolve! Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines Resolve as “To fix in opinion or purpose.” The definition of Arm: “To equip or ready… oneself.” In other words, Equip yourself with the same fixed opinion and purpose as Christ. But is that all it says? No, there’s also, “…since Christ suffered in his body.” This refers to 1 Peter 3:18: “For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body, but made alive in the spirit.” Later in 1 Peter 4:13 it says, “…rejoice that you share in the sufferings of Christ.”
Ok, I think these are the main pieces of our discussion. Christ took the form of the Human Body, and, therefore, was subject to all the same weaknesses we are. His body was just as fragile and had the same physical needs and vulnerabilities as ours. As a result, His temptation and suffering were not unlike our own. We know that Satan pulled out all the stops to play on the weakness that Christ’s body had. (Matthew 4) We also know that Christ physically suffered torture and ultimately suffered the death of the body. As it says, “He was put to death in the body, but made alive in the spirit.” Back to our application verse, “…arm yourself with the same resolve.” Christ stood fixed in opinion and purpose to the point of suffering torture and death. Satan offered Him many opportunities to compromise in order to reduce His suffering, and, studying Christ’s life, He was continuously offered the temptation to soften or alter His opinion in order that His body might suffer less at the hands of others. (On this read Would You Be An Ant…?) In all cases, His spirit was armed with the resolve of His Father and in the fixed opinion that compromise would be a sin against Him; therefore, the suffering of His body was not a consideration.
“Binary choice” was a phrase heard a lot in 2016. I am tempted to… OK I will…
In this instance, the definition of binary, “involving a choice or condition of two alternatives,” supports their use; it is the assumptions about the application that is off. For example, those throwing the word around believe the 2016 election had become a binary choice, and most agree. Where they fail is not in what “binary choice” means, but rather, as Christians, what that “choice” is. They believed it was between two people, neither more resolved to Christ than the other. Others, like me, believe the “choice” was between being fixed in purpose or softening our resolve. Body or Spirit? The power of their arguments lies in the fear of suffering. If we elect this one the country, my family and I will suffer more than if we elect the other. So we must choose which ever we believe is the “lesser evil.” This, of course, leaves us choosing evil and ignores 1 Peter 3:17: “For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” And 1 Peter 3:13-14 “Who will harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their intimidation; do not be shaken.”
Here’s a couple verses often left out of the discussion: 1 Peter 4:12,13 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that has come upon you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed at the revelation of His glory.” Many people walk around believing that God said if you stand with Him you will not suffer, and, as the verse says, are “surprised” when they do. It is very clear, however, you will suffer “fiery trials” as Christ did. It is not “strange” that your body will “share in the sufferings of Christ.” In fact, your spirit is to “rejoice” and be “overjoyed” that you do. For “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” 1 Peter 4:14. As we talked about above, Christ suffered, though not as a “wrongdoer,” but because He “bore God’s name” and was not “ashamed.” His body suffered, but His spirit “Glorified God.” He had “the spirit of Glory and of God.” It is clear that in this world we will suffer. The question is for what or for whom? Will you “suffer as a murderer or thief or wrongdoer, or even as a meddler”? Will you “disobey the gospel of God,” surrendering to Satan, the “Father of Lies,” or as a Christian who bears God’s name?
Our question is: “Suffering & Resolve… Where Will It End?” This question everyone must answer for themselves. What is the point to which you are willing to suffer in God’s name? What is your “Resolve?” In the worse parts of the world it is a binary choice: are you resolved for Christ or not? “Yes” means death of the body; “No” means death of the spirit. In these places, if you choose to stand with Christ (the good) and against evil (greater or lesser) you are subject to rape, torture, stoning and death. Unlike these places where their resolve is tested in a real way, here we cower at the possibility of suffering a funny look, a snicker or even a pointing finger if we declare our resolve for God’s Word.
So, how is our resolve tested? Is it the “Big” things? Rarely! As we talk about in the “Improve Life“ post, it is in the moments. The moment we choose not to correct our server when they get the bill wrong in our favor. The moment when our pastor says our church will abide by man’s definition of marriage rather than God’s, and we sit quietly in our pew. The moment when we know someone we love is outside God’s character and morality and we say nothing and play along. All these moments are binary choices; do we fear the sacrifice, the loss, the ridicule, the suffering embracing God’s character might bring and choose to be a “wrongdoer”? Or do we “Equip ourselves with the same fixed opinion and purpose as Christ” and “rejoice” that we “share” the suffering and choose right? Do we compromise to protect the body at the expense of the spirit? When you cut through all the superficial choices of the body and the mind with which Christians struggle and get down to the one choice we are required to make – God or No God, Christ or No Christ, Body or Spirit – the rest should be easy. If the rest is not easy, can we really say we’re resolved to the Spirit even if the Body suffers? If you truly believe “if you suffer for what is right, you are blessed,” then you accept the suffering Christ endured on your behalf and are “alive in the spirit” and dead to the body. You have “…armed yourself with the same resolve” as Christ.
I have no idea where your resolve ends, the point where the suffering is too big a price to pay for what Christ did for you. For me, wherever that point is, I am ashamed that it exists at all.
9/19/2016 Scott A Caughel