Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:7-11
Salt sweat and blood iron mix in her mouth. Her left eye puffy and shoulders heavy, she’s barely keeping her guard up. She manages to block a volley of jabs. Then ‘ding!’ Sweet relief. She staggers to her corner and slumps on her stool. She swigs water while the trainer sets to work patching up a cut. ‘You can do this. You can do this! Remember what we’ve worked on: keep your guard up, keep moving. This is your round.’ The bell rings again. She leaps from her stool, bumps her gloves, and begins bouncing from one foot to the other. ‘I can do this’.
The boxing ring can be a lonely place – it’s just you and someone who wants to knock you out cold. Time in the corner between rounds is essential. You breathe, get patched up, receive encouragement, reflect on the round just gone, and look forward to the round ahead. That’s exactly how church can (and should) function. In 4:1-6, Peter talks about wrestling with temptation, and in 4:12-19 about suffering for being a Christian. In the middle of these, he deliberately talks about Christian community.
When God’s people gather, we share a love that is deep and practical, gracious and forgiving. We joyfully spend ourselves on others. We use our gifts, skills, and resources to build-up our brothers and sisters, recognising all that we have comes from God and is ultimately for his glory. We look back at the week just gone, hearing God’s ‘well done’ for the good work we’ve done, his forgiveness for where we’ve strayed. We remember he was with us in the ring the whole time, and we thank him for that. Then we get set for the round ahead – how we want to approach it, who we’re going to live for when the bell rings.
Belonging to a church family matters. As you live for God on your frontline, week in, week out, you will see him working through you. But you might forget the game-plan, and you’ll certainly take some hits on the chin. You need your Christian brothers and sisters. And they need you.
This is an extract from our NEW 22-day journey through 1 Peter, beginning 6 November. Sign up here.