Our Peculiar Pilgrimage - Week 5

1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11
4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 4:13 But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.4:14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.

5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 5:8 Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. 5:9 Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. 5:10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. 5:11 To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

"Sometimes Christians deserve the ridicule they get and it is easy create one's own alienation and rejection by inappropriate and insensitive behaviour.” Those words of retired professor William Loader seems more than appropriate sometimes. What we say and what we do as Christ-followers are unfortunately, in the realm of absurd at times.

When Jesus said in Matthew 7:6, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces,” I'm wondering if Jesus ever intended for Christians throw out our mistakes to them as well? The predictions of Harold Camping and the end of the world didn't miss us even here in Paulding if you drove on Hwy 120, you'd have seen the billboard proclaiming the May 21st day which has now come and gone.

The conclusion reached by editorialists in the Washington Post seemed to nail the point home: Christian leaders have a responsibility to remind people that we cannot know the “day or hour” ... They should also emphasize, however, that Christians should not seek to escape the world, but to embrace and engage it instead. (Washington Post Article ).

Orthodoxy is the word for RIGHT BELIEF. Orthopraxy is unfortunately a little known cousin and it is the word that means RIGHT ACTION. In the first century of the Church, it is important make note that persecution came from what both Christ followers believed and what they did. Christians DID NOT BELIEVE in the Imperial-cult of worshipping Ceasar (much as the Jews wouldn't worship Pharoah of Egypt) so they DID NOT PARTICIPATE.

Unlike the Jewish leadership who attempted to remain neutral, Christ-followers did just that – they followed Christ. They preached a message of liberation that is they preached good news to the poor, freedom to the imprisoned, sight for those blinded, and liberation to the oppressed (Luke 4:18-19) and then they went beyond it – they did something about it. Read the Book of Acts, it is the book that outlines the history of the early Church.

As we've looked at Peter's letter we've seen this movement of Right Belief and Right Action that we've been called to for it is our peculiar pilgrimage. It is a way Peter says, that shouldn't surprise us when we are facing difficulty or persecution. We should not even expect that in this lifetime that we will find ease.

But ease is not rest. Jesus promised us we would have that. But here is the way:
Be humble – the word meaning humiliated. Not God doing but you and I choosing it.
Cast anxiety – literally, THROW it on God.
Be sober of spirit – be calm, reflective, attentive to God's presence
But be alert – on your guard → there is an enemy, don't doubt it.

The way of Jesus is not merely one way among many but the way contrary, the way perplexing, the different path, the peculiar path. Don't take that because there are church buildings on every corner that our peculiar pilgrimage is part of culture. When Christianity was ruled to be the Religion of the realm by Emperor Constantine, it didn't make the way of Christ the way of the world.

The peculiar pilgrimage of Christ followers continued in the out of the way places, in the shadows, not in the popular stream of things. Today it continues and it is in that way, that I challenge you to live and walk. In that way, you will know sufferings as others do around the world but you will also know what it will be to have Jesus himself, “restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.”

Don't look for the Kingdom to come – look for it around you, in you and being built by those who follow the peculiar preacher from Nazareth on His peculiar pilgrimage.


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