Recap | Citizens | Suffering & Hope

This past weekend Bill White led us through the final teaching in our series entitled Citizens: Identity and Allegiance. Throughout each week we have seen the prevailing theme that our primary citizenship is to an eternal kingdom that will outlive and swallow up this temporal one.

A big fact we need to understand about where we live now is that the type of freedoms we enjoy are not normal across the landscape of history. Since the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, Western civilization has known a concept that governments can’t take away certain inalienable rights of individual men. We actually live in a unique blip in time where these freedoms evolved to what we now know as liberty. This means we have a distinctive responsibility to steward this freedom.  We certainly can’t fall in love with this system because any government of this world is fleeting and fallen. So what does it look like for us to live practically with all of this in mind?

I Peter 3:8-18 boils things down to two big ideas: establishing a new community and enduring suffering with hope. These are fundamental and foundational to following Jesus. It’s about modeling something the world has never seen before and handling its response to it.  This lifestyle, then, will always result in suffering.

In verses 8-12, Peter talks about what it looks like to build this new community. Jesus’ purpose and calling for us inherently eliminates division. Being on mission together creates a type of community that is crucial for the Christian life. Peter talks about a community of sympathy, a mutual commiseration. We weren’t created to be lonely and marginalized. We were created to mirror an eternal God who lives in personal harmony, united understanding, and sole purpose, and He does all this as three distinct persons.  Peter talks about a different type of communal economy, one that exchanges blessing for insult. This community is built on love; a selfless and merciful environment.

If this sounds foreign, it’s because our traditional church setting is probably not known for doing this well.  But in the next few verses, we see that this type of community is blessed by God. This requires a continuous process of dying to self, looking forward to God’s promises, and relying on community.

This type of lifestyle, however, will come with a price. In verses 13-18, Peter makes it very plain that suffering is a sure-fire byproduct that we can expect, necessitating our reliance on the hope of Jesus. We are called to simply not be afraid because Jesus is sovereign. Our regular routine will draw questions from those who observe it, and Peters charges us to have a skillful, gentle, and respectful justification of why we live how we live. The Christian life cannot be effective if it’s hypocritical and two-faced.

In Hebrews 13, the Hebrew Christians are challenged to live how Jesus did. As pictured in the Old Testament’s law system, Jesus was made a sacrifice for us and was taken outside the camp. As His followers, we are to bear His shame by living as outcasts in a world that is not our home. By living in this manner, we declare the distinction and beauty of what God has called His people to.

-Nate Emery

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Worship Songs from the Weekend

  • The Name of Jesus Christ: Philippians 2:6-11, Isaiah 45:22-23
  • Seas of Crimson: Isaiah 53:4-5, Matthew 26:28, Revelation 12:11
  • Set My Hope: Romans 8
  • I Will Look Up: Psalm 57:7-11, Isaiah 26:1-8, 2 Samuel 22:26-31