The New Living Translation
Living for God

Lately I’ve been thinking about the early days of my faith formation. When I was a young Christian—in age and in faith—I had the privilege of being part of a community of Christians where grace flowed freely and the Bible came alive. I was enthralled by the experiences of God’s holiness we shared that led to confession and healing. We felt free and full of joy. We couldn’t get enough, wanting to keep doing the things that connected us to God in this powerful way. This life in God couldn’t have been better. Difficulties were faced with confidence that God would overcome them for our good. We always seemed to have a deep awe and appreciation for Christ’s suffering and dying for us. Because of it, we could experience these deeper things of God. We wanted to live for God, to be with him and the people with whom we shared these experiences. Over time I realized that something was missing. The realization started to set in that God wanted more for me than experiences of him. With others, I learned that God not only wanted for me to experience his holiness, he wanted me to live in it. Sounded great to me! Exploring what it means to live in God’s holiness entailed looking beyond the experiences I wanted so that my attitudes and priorities could be challenged. It was not easy to do. To this day, holiness for me begins there, and it’s just as difficult. According to 1 Peter 4:1-2, Jesus’ willingness to endure physical suffering and pain demonstrated a readiness to suffer in other ways as well. Peter uses a military metaphor to call his readers to prepare mentally for action. He says to “arm yourselves” by preparing to suffer for doing good so that a clean break can be made with sin. What does this mean for us? Attitude accompanies action. It is the attitude rather than the actual action that leads to growth in holiness. It changes us. Preparing to take it on the chin for obedience to God redirects our desires. No longer do we seek to fulfill ours; rather, we become eager to do God’s. That was Peter’s hope for his readers, among whom we are included. How will you prepare to suffer for doing good? Jack Radcliffe is a husband and father of four, coach (www.redwoodcoach.com), ministry trainer and speaker, dean of the Youth Ministry Institute of the Tennessee Conference UMC, and adjunct professor at Martin Methodist College. He has an M.Div. from Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio and a D.Min. in Practical Theology, Adolescent Development and Culture from Fuller Theological Seminary. –

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