Wednesday, May 09, 2012
A Peaceful Challenge of Heart...
It was just a swift 15 minutes, but it was enough to revive me.
The rest of the hour lingered, so I opened my Bible to 1 Peter 4. An enjoyable letter because we know so much about the author's encounter with Jesus and his progress in accepting Truth. Peter was a strong-willed disciple, always jumping into the forefront with opinion and self-protection. Through the years of ministry, he must have learned much in allowing the Spirit of truth to penetrate his actions. He definitely had the experience to describe his precious love for his friend and Savior, Jesus Christ.
As I continued to read, his desire to pass on his knowledge leaped off the page and challenged my own participation in the Savior's physical suffering.
Remaining peaceful, I began to meditate on the passage, and several thoughts became evidently applied in my own heart's desire.
First of all, in verse 1-2, I found that biblical truth burrowed into our spirit causes deep change when we actually grasp the physical suffering of Christ on our behalf. The painful truth that another suffered innocently for our own horrible sin of self righteousness takes root and forces perspective and actions to follow in strength. A consuming desire to have the same attitude becomes a must, a driving force, a decision maker, and causes absolute evaluation of changes that must take place in order to attain this desire.
Peter writes that following this understanding, there must be an attitude adjustment. Realizing that Christ's physical suffering was brought on because he purposed to bring us to God, makes one consider that to have the same purpose may cause personal suffering. Although, we are commanded to participate in bringing others to know God, Peter writes to consider the cost this attitude may bring and understand it will be a cross of suffering. If we step out into the world, carrying the same purpose of bringing others to the Savior, we must be prepared for connected suffering. Trying to accept this theory, we hesitate the desire to grasp Christ's attitude, considering the real worth in the weight of His purpose.
A side benefit comes when we accept the willingness to suffer for Christ's cause. We start to grasp how separated man is from God, that sin keeps man from God, and quickly shy away from any pull sin might have on our lives.
Peter warns that one of the most frequent sufferings attacks many in their new found love in Christ. They run to old friends, thinking they, too, will be glad to be brought to God, but confront disappointing responses in a pulling away and even rejection. Their change in desires, the aspiration to be like the Christ, the rejection of old ways and habits, and even the loss of defensiveness is not understood.
Old friends reject these changes in the new lifestyle for two reasons.
First, because this new attitude is seen as religious fanaticism. It does not fit their religious belief system, so they reject it as abnormal behavior, call it 'extremes', and consequently, reject truth.
Second, because their conscience sides with the truth shared and is against their own lifestyles, making them uneasy. Time spent together is uncomfortable, then, unbearable; so avoidance becomes more frequent, finally ending friendship. Invitations and phone calls cease. Rejection from friends show their real rejection is toward the God who calls through the cross. With a broken heart, we mourn the consequence of their choice.
We realize Christ's purpose to bring others to God is a heavy cross.
As the peaceful time of meditation ended, I was left with the challenging question.
Is your choice to be like Him worth the weight of this cross?
Peter says, "Absolutely."