By Edna M. Thompson
Siloam Baptist Church
The story of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection is the theme of the books of 1 and 2 Peter. The foundation of the Christian faith is based upon what God did through the life of Jesus Christ. Christ is God’s gift of salvation to all who receive Him.
Serving Christ in the world means that Christians are called to engage the world, not withdraw from it. The study of this week’s lesson (1 Peter 4) will challenge you to think critically and theologically about how the whole of life (mind, body and spirit) is to be governed and used by the will of God. Our lesson highlights the truth that without the divine nature of new life in Christ, the idolatry of human passions inevitably seeks to corrupt God’s gift of salvation. This lesson also teaches that Christ’s love, operating within us, is the bottom line of Christ’s salvation.
The early Christians found themselves living in a culture that was dominated by a Greek worldview. In order to survive in a Greek pagan culture, they were heavily influenced to apply a Greek way of thinking to their new faith in Christ. The ancient Greeks understood human life to be trapped in a dualism where body and soul, and flesh and spirit were in conflict. They believed that the body was evil and the soul good; that time was corrupt and eternity pure; that the earth was to be shunned and heaven sought; and that the flesh was the seat of impurity and spirit was the seat of blessedness.
The study of this lesson should help us celebrate the holiness of Christ, as well as the gifts, pleasures and joys of the body – and to see the flesh and spirit as gifts from God. Christian life is for believers to be good stewards of Christ’s love and to serve Christ by serving others with the same love that transformed their lives.
The writer of the book of 1 Peter warned that Christians are not exempt from suffering and can expect to do fierce battle against the carnal and sinful forces that corrupt human desires. When the epistle alerted believers to “arm” against fleshly desires, he knew that believers in Christ would do battle against the same fleshly powers that provided the context for Christ’s suffering. Human pride, lust for power, corrupt politics tied to greed and selfishness, hate and prejudice joined to religious zeal were the manifestations of human desires or fleshly corruption that caused Christ to suffer.
The gifts of God through Christ to our humanity are manifold in their potential to transform life. Salvation is the supreme gift that Christ’s love offers to us. As Christians are stewards of God’s gift, they are responsible for the faithful use of those gifts. The study of this lesson invites us to critically reflect on the meaning of Christ’s salvation for us and our world. Christ’s salvation includes all of life, including sexuality and spirituality, politics and prayer. Following the mandates of Christ’s salvation keeps us from turning human passion into idolatry. It frees us to use human passion to serve the cause of Christ’s love and liberation in the world. Christ’s salvation for us is love as a gift, which we are to receive in order to share with and for others.