I Peter 4:1-12

12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And,
   "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
      what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"[a]

19So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Peter tells us that "It is time for judgment to begin with the house of God." Just when you might think that Peter is telling us to just turn our backs upon a world that has turned its back on his suffering disciples, Peter issues a statement of radical solidarity for both the saint and the sinner, under both the grace and the judgment of God. Understood rightly, this judgment, which begins in the church, is actually a work of grace, to free us from our slavish dependence upon the values and the approval of the world. Think of it as holy house cleaning. What does this say for our witness to the world? And what might it say for the current Senate investigation into some big ticket mass media Christian ministries? How about an interesting option for a Christmas card to send to friends and neighbors? See the picture at: http://www.pacifichighlander.postkiwi.com/2007/jesus-washes-osamas-feet-in-seattle-malls/

For more on these questions and others, check out yesterday’s message (November 25, 2007) at Emmanuel Mennonite Church, by clicking on at Download judgmentfirstword.doc .

Peace be with you,

Mathew Swora, pastor



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