Updated: Feb 5
This is the reading chosen from the first epistle of Saint Peter, read on the Seventh Sunday of Easter. It is scheduled to next be read on Sunday, May 24, 2020. If you notice, this reading is a cut and paste, where three verses from Peter’s fourth chapter (12-14) are cut out of the middle of that chapter and pasted to six verses cut out of the middle of Peter’s fifth (and final) chapter (6-11). The verses selected speak of the pains of being truly Christian. Peter wrote of the “fiery ordeal,” the “sufferings,” the “anxiety,” and the “discipline” that become the set expectations for one who gives up his or hers self-ego, so God can take up residence in a new Holy Tabernacle of flesh and His Son can be reborn as the king over that individual’s actions. Since we have been placed in the ‘cut and paste’ mode with this reading, I thought it would be good to add some ‘cut and paste’ context to this setting of suffering. To better establish each of the sets of verses from the middle of chapters, I thought it would be good to show the verses that begin each chapter, from which the middle verses fall in support. The first three verses in chapter four state this: “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.” (1 Peter 4:1-3, NIV) This clarifies that the sufferings of Apostles and Saints is a natural extension of being reborn as Jesus Christ. In the above translation, where the second segment of verse one says “arm yourselves also with the same attitude,” the Greek word translated as “attitude” is “ennoian.” That word better translates as “mind,” but Strong’s states its definition as being “thinking, thoughtfulness, moral understanding.” This means an Apostles or Saint has “the same understanding” as did Christ, which is taking on the Christ Mind. When Peter then went on to say suffering as Jesus Christ reborn means being “done with sin” and able to reject “evil human desires” (generalized as: living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry). This says being reborn with the “same mind” as Jesus had means leading one’s own flesh is enabled to reach the only way one can be and live righteously, denying the lures of the world. ALL human beings are addicted to sin, because they have all lived in a world of sin, without knowing God personally as their Father, not knowing Jesus Christ personally as their king. The result of changing from sinner to saint is the ‘heebie jeebies’ or withdrawal sufferings.
Examples of withdrawal symptoms for alcohol addicts.
In this regard, Peter wrote “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.” The “strange things happening” means one is walking the path of righteousness, which is a road seldom traveled and leads to a destination unknown.
For all the Bible Stories learned as a child, and for all the ‘visions of sugar plums dancing’ in that child’s head, life as an adult brings a cold hard reality that needs fresh bottles of excuses to wash down and plenty of pity pills to make all the normal pains and suffering of life in a sinful world seem bearable. Walking the path of righteousness requires a guide, but that road is so untraveled it is overgrown with the brush and brambles of suffering that must be cleared … as a test of faith.
As the reading from the first chapter of Acts ended with Jesus having disappeared from view and angels told the disciples (of whom Peter was one) to go about their business, as they had nothing to find from looking up in the sky. The resurrected Jesus (Jesus reborn into a dead body) had taught them for forty days, preparing them for an unknown return. We then read, “They all joined together constantly devoting themselves to prayer.”
The Greek word “proseuché,” which translates as “prayer,” means a dialogue between the faithful and God was part of their new normal. Jesus had promised them, “what you ask for in my name the Father will do.” That line of communication must be maintained at all times (“constantly”). What is completely overlook in that translation from Acts is how the word translated as “joined together” (“homothymadon”) actually means the disciples and friends of Jesus became “with one mind.” Therefore, that meaning says the named followers of Jesus did not simply all go pray in the same room, as they all had instilled within them the mindset of prayer. It was from that unified mindset of prayer that the names listed and generalized – the devoted followers of Jesus of Nazareth – became willing and prepared brides of God. They did not know that just the next day, at nine in the morning of Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit would enter them and they would give birth to the Son of God many times over. They all would become Saints or Apostles that day, because they were married to God in their hearts and the voice of His Son burst out of their mouths immediately. For as fearful as they had been of the dangers of being known as followers of a man executed by the Romans, at the behest of the Temple elite, they all stood up and began speaking in foreign languages, fluently speaking the truth of God’s Word (the Torah, Psalms, and Prophets).
The immediate reaction was, “Oh, there is a group of people still drunk on new wine.” It was not, “Oh look! There are the people with all the answers we have long been seeking!” This is why Peter wrote, “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.” Those who immediately rejected those new bodies of flesh that had the Christ Mind and spoke the truth of God as Jesus Christ, experienced how fast the world is to turn on someone not ‘toeing the party line’ or keeping the standard of bad shepherd-run religion. Rejection of truth being told is always the way a sinful world strikes out, in fear of being discovered as evil. However, because ALL Apostles (including the women of Jesus) have the Holy Spirit of God as part of their being, the truth was heard and souls were saved that day.
We read not too long ago about three thousand receiving the Holy Spirit that day. Three thousand became Jesus Christ reborn. Three thousand went out into ministry because of the preaching of just a few followers of Jesus of Nazareth. They all went and found the same rejection that they had to face, as their test of faith. The problem we experience today, where the same standards of bad shepherd-run religion are just as prevalent, is people who profess to be Christians are just as apt to grab rocks to stone to death prophets and very easily prone to speak insults (to their faces or behind their backs) to those who tell them something they did not read in some book, sold in hardback copies at the Christian book store or preached about by their hired hand leader. The reason people are so prone to strike out in anger first is this: Nobody wants to do what is necessary to walk a path of righteousness, simply because Lent proved (just like failed New Year’s resolutions) that living up to a child’s dream is impossible, when all their friends are not of the same mind.
6. Kill my ego and be Jesus Christ.
Rather than change, according to the Word, it is so much easier to crucify Jesus, over and over again. To ease the pain and suffering of that failure to serve God as His Priests, people go to churches and listen to an Epistle and think, “Aaaahh. That nice Apostle told me everything I am doing is okay.”
The pewples cannot understand that Peter and Paul and all the other Saints wrote letters of encouragement to the ones like them – to other Saints and Apostles – who were struggling to find Jews and Gentiles who wanted to marry God and give birth to His Son Jesus. Thus, when they hear a reader in church say the words: “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.” They think, Peter just told me everything is okay. It is easy to make that mistake in logic when the verses from Peter’ fifth chapter omit the introduction (verses one through three, which clearly are addressed “To the elders among you.” Peter wrote: “I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”
Christianity became a separate gathering of Apostles and Saints, with their devoted followers-in-training (mostly the ‘have nots’). “Churches” began (versus synagogues) because of the sufferings of being outcast from Jewish houses of assembly. The Apostles did not write to formal institutions in places around the Middle East (such as the Church of Ephesus), but to the Apostles of a place where the Holy Spirit had been spread to humans. The Apostles did not write to people who were not reborn as Jesus Christ, as if the Epistles were some influence to ‘buy into Christianity if outcast’ promotion. The Apostles wrote letters of support and encouragement to other Apostles, all of whom knew the challenges of trying to save a world of sinners.
The “elders” to whom Peter addressed were then also Apostles and Saints, who led gatherings of others seeking to be reborn as Jesus Christ. In our present aborted return to bad shepherd-run religion, the tendency is to see a priest, minister, or pastor as an “elder.” The problem with that is there are no such people dressed up in robes, crosses and collars these days. Christian churches for years have been pumping out young, inexperienced priests, with not enough life experience to be termed an “elder,” much less know the Holy Bible and what it means. They are all hired hands who get paychecks from some institution or organization. It is that business (not God or Christ) who tells those hired hands what to do and what to believe.
Thus, when Peter wrote, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time,” priests, ministers and pastors embolden themselves as the spokesmen and spokeswomen of Jesus Christ, saying [I paraphrase from experience hearing them]: “I speak for Jesus when I say you should contribute to and take part in my political and philosophical mindset.”
An “elder” is not some political hack, nor a socialist partisan. Karl Marx was not Jesus Christ reborn. Today’s religious leaders ignore the dangers of pretending to be spokespeople for Jesus, by ignoring how Peter wrote, “Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.” Those false leaders do not read that and learn to teach that message to the paying customers. Young priests and pastors today do not preach, “Anyone who is not Jesus Christ reborn, the Son of God resurrected in the flesh by the glory of God Almighty IS GOING TO BE DEVOURED BY EVIL.”
They do not teach followers how to become what they know nothing of (although they might occasionally support a youngster’s attempt to find work in that religion, as a seminarian applicant).
They set the expectation that doing nothing is why God sent His Son into the world of sin, which was not made better by the presence of Jews revering Mosaic Law … doing nothing. This means people misunderstand Peter and Paul (et al) as Apostles. They are not seen as rebirths of Jesus Christ, but as devoted Christians who went out to spread Christianity around the world. They paint them as ‘do-gooders’ who had a desire to be well-known. Now, when everyone older than twenty knows about Jesus Christ, it is time to lay back and do nothing, because others before us did all the work. Just sit back; sin all you want (within legal limits, but advocate extending those limits), and wait to die and go to Heaven. Christians are blind today that the same failure occurred long ago. The lesson is repeating the same failure does not work out well. Here is the lesson that should be remembered on this seventh Sunday of Easter: Being Israelites in their new Promised Land was a lot of hard work – always praying and always living according to the Laws of Moses. Work, work, work. And then, on top of all that work, the people who lived there and were not Israelites were always causing pain and suffering. The Israelites would get tired of fighting and let their enemies get their way; and, the next thing they knew was their enemies were persecuting them terribly. That brought about the yo-yo effect of working hard to win God’s grace, then relaxing and doing nothing, which only brought on more persecution. All that hard work led to the “elders” going to the prophet Samuel, who they told, “Tell God we want a king, to be like all the other sinful nations of the world. What the king says to do, we will do, and let that be our agreement with God (now that we have our Promised Land).” The end of that story did not work out well.
Constantine somehow told the movement of Apostles, “What you guys need is an emperor, instead of something as simple as a king. Therefore, I will rule all of Christendom as a pope!” Just as Israel split in two after Solomon died, so too did the Christian churches. And it has been going downhill (split after split) thereafter. The repeating of the same story, second verse. It also does not end well.
The end of the world as we know it will be because of hatred. American and English Christians allowed the Zionist Jews (a political organization) to steal Palestine and rename it Israel. There can be no support from Yahweh for theft of anything. Western Christians have played God and promised land that was not theirs to promise to anyone. The Church of Rome has collapsed in disgrace. The royal blood of Jesus (the man) has been reduced to a series of impure families with closets full of evil secrets. In a repeat of the past, the Jews will let someone else condemn Jesus and nail him on a tree once again. The whole world has now become the Promised Land that needs voices crying out in prayer, “Save us from ourselves, Lord!”
Mistaking philosophies with God’s Will is not an act led by the Christ Mind.
When the Jesus of John’s Apocalypse comes, it will not be to save the world anymore. The letters to the seven churches are statements of judgment that waits Christian churches’ approval. The new covenant says, “Yeah, you did some good, but you best receive the Spirit.”
Unfortunately, Christians today bow down and pay homage to kings of nations, bishops of religious organizations, and idols of entertainment. Very few have allowed their bodies of mortal flesh to become nations unto God, whose king given in rule is His Son, Jesus Christ. Very few see Jesus Christ as the right hand of God who rules over their bodies, as they do God’s Will. Very few today are true Apostles and Saints trying to get the attention of people calling themselves ‘Christians’. Many are living evil lives and pretending that Jesus says it is okay. Anyone who speaks messages that are contrary to that newfound sense of redemption is persecuted. This is not a new development. Peter wrote to the “elders” who were “shepherds of God’s flock,” saying, “know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.” Wherever Jesus Christ stands reborn, evil will attack that body of mortal flesh just like the Jews of Herod’s Temple did two thousand years ago. There is no easy way to heaven. The path of righteousness cannot be walked alone. A mortal needs immortal assistance. An Apostle needs the support of other Apostles.
Easter is not about doing nothing. It is all about the suffering of death – one’s self-ego being laid to rest. It is about resurrection through marriage to God – when Jesus said “Receive the Spirit.” The Easter season is about the wedding plans – a mindset joined with God through prayer. Next week it is all about the graduation day experience. Unfortunately, when one looks around churches today (after fear of coronavirus has eased and churches reopen) you see old congregations. In the pews are ‘veteran’ Christians, all claiming thirty, forty, fifty years of ‘service’ to a Church, an institution, having never once gone out in ministry for the Lord. Not once have any of them ‘graduated’ as Jesus Christ resurrected.
Christians see that as normal; but go to any college and university campus and ask, “Where are the fifty year students hanging out these days?”
The normal answer there would be, “Get out of here! No one goes to school that long. They either graduate or drop out.” Amen