Lectionary Year A
May 12, 2002
1 Peter 4;12-14, 5:6-11

Hermeneutical Bridge


These paragraphs begin pointing out the realities of suffering, trying and strange as it appears to be. They further identify that denunciations are likely to come to those who live and serve in Christ's name. Then they claim that such suffering shares Christ's passion. Next, a somewhat disjointed phrase moves to the subject of Christ's glory. Therein, readers/hearers are encouraged to sense God's Spirit resting on them/us. These statements get repeated over and over again. Still, suffering seems to be a relatively minor concern in this pericope.

The major concern seems to be theological. God's spirit and glory, and Christ's for that matter, seem to be more significant to this text. The culmination of this culminating (for all of 1 Peter) passage proclaims that God will exalt, restore, strengthen, support and establish those who suffer for a season. Such realizations bring us to want to humble ourselves, and to remain sober, disciplined and alert.

More minor features other than the above might include the devil mentioned almost parenthetically. Another feature worth noting is the suggestion that we cast all our anxiety on God who can handle it all.


4:12 Beloved, be not disoriented if you encounter challenges that suggest they are trying to test you. Stranger things have happened (even to us all)! 13 Rather rejoice and consider that you are sharing in Christ's passion. Thereby, you may be glad and shout for joy as His glory is being completed (in you, even). 14 If anyone renounces you for living in Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is also God's Spirit, rests on you.

5:6 Humble yourselves under God's mighty hand. Thereby, God might lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxieties on God, who cares for you. 7 Discipline yourselves to keep alert. Like a roaring lion, your adversary, the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, remain steadfast in your faith. You know that people the world over endure such sufferings. 10 Our suffering is short lived. Thereafter, the God of grace, who calls us to eternity in Christ, will complete, support, strengthen and establish you. 11 To God we acclaim dominion for ever. Amen.


This pericope seems to address people we hold dear, too. We all struggle with good and evil. We do some good and work against yielding to temptations that tempt us to do less than good. The shootings at Columbine High School, Littleton, Colorado, still come to mind. This world today, not unlike Asia Minor in the first centuries of the Common Era, face good versus evil dynamics. People today need more permission to enjoy good, clean living that includes being in the loop of those God blesses. This passage stipulates how most effectively we can enjoy doing good in Christ. In the second paragraph of today's text, God's sovereign compassion gets much ink. The admonition that opens verse 8 instructs us to discipline and alertness. We need such instruction. Schools face discipline problems every minute of every day. We need to sharpen our focussing on what is good in the world of faith development. This passage points us in these directions.

Used by permission from Lectionary Tales for the Pulpit by Merle G. Franke.

You Don't Stand Alone

      Wendell and his friend Greg had been buddies since childhood. They belonged to the same church, were confirmed togethere, attended the same school, and now as young adults they played racquetball together whenever they could get a few spare hours in their busy work week. And once in a while they met for a cool beer before going home from work.

      But as close as they were as friends, they came from different stock and were far apart in their approaches to life. As they sat in their club snack bar after a strenuous racquetball game, their talk turned to Wendell's difficulties at home. The talk too often turned that way, it seemed to Greg.

      "Why don't you and Sarah get some professional help?" Greg asked for the umpteenth time.

      "Because I'm just not built that way, that's why," Wendell replied, also for the umpteenth time. "You keep bugging me about getting help, getting help... " His voice trailed off because he couldn't think of another reason for not getting help.

      "A lot of other people - including me - have turned to other people for help. There's no disgrace about it, you know," Greg tried again.

      "It's just the way I was raised," Wendell rationalized. He sipped his beer for a moment, then added in a voice that suggested he was talking to someone afar off, "My daddy always told me we have to stand on our own two feet. He said we stand alone in the world and have to fight our own battles."

      "Oh, come on now," Greg protested. "I don't intend offense against your late father, and I know how highly you respected him, but none of us stands alone. You know better than that. Just look at the business you're in; you depend on dozens of other people or you wouldn't even get to first base."

      "Well, that's business. What I'm talking about is personal. I don't want to drag my personal affairs to someone who doesn't know diddly squat about me," Wendell stated firmly.

      They both sat quietly for a moment, then Greg suggested, "What about talking to Pastor Daniel? He's a good counselor and has helped a lot of people with their personal problems."

      Wendell chuckled, "Yeah, he probably knows me too well!"

      "Well, give me a break," Greg teased. "First you don't want to talk to someone who doesn't know you, and now you don't want to go to the pastor because he knows you too well. You're a stubborn Swede, that's what.

      "Norwegian," Wendell corrected.

      "Whatever," Greg agreed. "Come on, let's go. Our wives will think we've skipped the country." As they parted in the parking lot, Greg asked, "Will you give Pastor Daniel a call?"

      "I'll think about it," Wendell replied.

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