International Sunday School Lesson for May 19, 2013
Scripture Text: 1 Peter 4:1-11
Purpose: To find the beauty of living as stewards and servants
1 Peter 4:1-11 (CEB)
1 Therefore, since Christ suffered as a human, you should also arm yourselves with his way of thinking. This is because whoever suffers is finished with sin. 2 As a result, they don’t live the rest of their human lives in ways determined by human desires but in ways determined by God’s will. 3 You have wasted enough time doing what unbelievers desire—living in their unrestrained immorality and lust, their drunkenness and excessive feasting and wild parties, and their forbidden worship of idols. 4 They think it’s strange that you don’t join in these activities with the same flood of unrestrained wickedness. So they slander you. 5 They will have to reckon with the one who is ready to judge the living and the dead.6 Indeed, this is the reason the good news was also preached to the dead. This happened so that, although they were judged as humans according to human standards, they could live by the Spirit according to divine standards.
7 The end of everything has come. Therefore, be self-controlled and clearheaded so you can pray. 8 Above all, show sincere love to each other, because love brings about the forgiveness of many sins. 9 Open your homes to each other without complaining. 10 And serve each other according to the gift each person has received, as good managers of God’s diverse gifts. 11 Whoever speaks should do so as those who speak God’s word. Whoever serves should do so from the strength that God furnishes. Do this so that in everything God may be honored through Jesus Christ. To him be honor and power forever and always. Amen.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
The words of Peter are not readily taught or preached about in our modern day churches. In fact Peter's two letters are included only twice in any suggested lectionary. Peter's words are not easy for us to comprehend or to follow. The suggestion that following the teachings of Jesus could cause us to be persecuted, are not well accepted.
Peter challenges the Christians of his day to accept the persecution, and live a life that reflects the teachings of Jesus. Today there is very little persecution for Christians in the United States, because there is very little difference in the lives that Christians lead compared to the lives of those who make no claim about being a follower of Christ. Christians today are not inclined to live a separated life from the rest of the world. The divorce rate for church goers is no different from the rest of the world. Alcoholism and infidelity rates run about the same for those that practice Christianity as the rest of the world. Today a person that declares a life of celibacy until marriage is a made a laughing stock. People that choose to not participate in the drunkenness or excessive feasting, and wild parties is considered to be weird or strange, and lacks the proper social skills to succeed in business and in life.
When all of these offenses are preached we do not want to listen, we choose not to be different, rather than choose a disciplined, restrained life we choose to be like everybody else. Peter says in verse 7 “be self-controlled and clearheaded so you can pray.”
Peter also talks about being good stewards of what we have been given. When most Christians think about stewardship it is only about how much we give to a local church. Christian stewardship is far more than that, Peter talks about opening your homes to those that need help, and sharing in the gifts that have been given to each of us. When Peter refers to being good managers, that is being a good steward of whatever gifts God has given you.
When we offer council or share in the good news of the gospel, we should make certain that it is God that receives the glory, otherwise our motives come into question and it becomes about our good works and not God working in us.
Some may become confused by the words in verse 6, but everyone that died prior to the resurrection of Jesus was already dead, but the atonement of Jesus blood on Calvary covers them also. They too will become part of that heavenly host that accepted God's promise. Because our creed say's that Christ descended into Hades we can only assume that those souls were reached during those three days of preaching by Jesus. They no longer face human judgment, they now live by the Spirit, according to God's judgment, who is equipped to judge both the living and the dead.
In eternity we will all live by the Spirit, regardless of where we fall in God's time-line.