Today’s bible study is from 1 Peter 5:8: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
Our scripture today speaks of sharing in one another’s suffering. In this passage, Paul is writing to Peter about the church as a support group, structured for mission. Many Christians, even today, cherish these feelings and see their churches as a tremendous source of support as well as their mission to the community, the nation, and the world at large.
In the beginning of this letter, Paul is writing as a presbyter, or elder, in the Roman church, who writes with apostolic authority. Paul’s reference to the suffering of Christ means that he bears witness to the meaning of the cross, not that he actually witnessed the crucifixion. We are all called to do so as Christians, and to be ever mindful of the meaning of the cross.
The churches are led by elders who, like Paul, participate in the apostolic authority, but all are subordinate to Christ, the chief shepherd. Their temptation to exercise their ministry for sordid gain may refer to their responsibility for church funds, or a salaried office. We are reminded that good church leaders exercise their authority by example in the spirit of humility.
Finally, Paul speaks of his brothers and sisters in the entire world. The little churches in Asia are members of the one church, a worldwide community of faith. Suffering does not refer to official persecution, but to the harassment and discrimination that all Christians suffer wherever they are. This is no longer as valid as it was at the time this letter was written. There is very little persecution today, and Christians are generally accepted and looked favorably upon in the world.
May we ever me mindful of the suffering of Christ and the meaning of the cross. And may we ever bear witness to that meaning. Help us to exercise out authority for the good of others and to the glory of God, and never for personal gain or self-satisfaction. Gracious and glorious God, make of ever mindful of our mission to the world and the oneness of all followers of your son Jesus Christ. Glory be to you, O Father, and to your son, Jesus our risen Lord.
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