by Michael E. Brooks
“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (1 Peter 4:1 NKJV).
While studying together with a teacher from Khulna Bible College this week I came across this verse. I had not previously noticed its military type language but in the wake of violence and concern for safety in this region of the world it struck a chord on this reading.
If major embassies cannot protect their personnel from terrorist attacks, how can isolated Christians expect to travel safely in this world? In fact, how can anyone anywhere guarantee his or her personal security amidst so much greed, violence and anger?
The simple answer is, they cannot. Sin and evil exist, and they will cause much suffering — “Destruction and misery are in their ways” (Romans 3:16).
Innocent people will be harmed, good works will be hindered, and peace will be shattered. While it is true that some precautions can be taken, lessening certain risks, there can never be certain safety — at least not in this life.
Peter has an answer to the dilemma however. He does not tell believers to take up better guns or bombs than the enemy. Rather he instructs us to arm our minds by adapting the same attitude displayed by Christ.
When suffering comes, welcome it as a means of pleasing and glorifying God. Security is not defined as avoiding violent attacks. It is defined in the New Testament as enduring them without betraying faith in God or jeopardizing eternal salvation (Matthew 10:28).
In 1 Peter 3 the Apostle dealt with the suffering a Christian of his era might endure. If one suffers “for righteousness sake” he will be blessed (verse 14). Such suffering leads to the glory of God (verses 16-17, also 1 Peter 2:20).
If one suffers as punishment for crime, that is mere justice. If on the other hand suffering is undeserved, it gives opportunity to display Christian faith. In this we can rejoice (Romans 5:3; James 1:2-3).
Throughout his discussion Peter reminds us of Jesus who willingly suffered for all mankind (1 Peter 2:21-25; 3:18; 4:1). He is our example. He endured far more than we are called upon to do, and gave up far more to face it. His suffering is the epitome of injustice. Yet as a result God highly exalted him (Philippians 2:9; Hebrews 2:9).
Counselors inform us that a crisis is not the occurrence of some misfortune. One is not “in crisis” because he is diagnosed with serious illness, or because her relative has tragically died.
Rather a crisis occurs when those things happen and one reacts poorly to them. When our emotions overwhelm us, resulting in despair, uncontrollable grief, or depression, that is when we are in a major crisis.
Peter’s instructions reflect this awareness. The best weapon a Christian can take up to protect himself in an evil world is the mind of Christ.
Let us think as our Master thought. Let us trust God as he trusted. Let us be as unselfish and loving as he was. When we can approach those goals we will be prepared to face and survive the worst the world can bring against us.
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life . . . . nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8: 37-39).