Many people have this misconception that having a life in faith is easy, borderline childish, naive, and stupid. In reality, life as a Christian is a constant challenge. For one thing, God constantly pushes us outside of our comfort zones and asks us change.
Most of us don’t like to change unless we feel that it’s absolutely necessary. But as C.S. Lewis said
“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
1 Peter could be considered a short guide to living a Christ-filled life. A lot of the advice in this short letter centers on discipline. And granted, discipline doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. It brings to mind montages from army movies with very loud drill instructors or memories of school uniforms and nuns with rulers.
But it’s not like that at all. Discipline gives our lives structure. Discipline refines us, challenges us, improves us. We all have a desire for some kind of solid ground and a life in Christ gives us that.
Having a life in Christ means that we are called to become the best version of ourselves. We undergo trials by fire and slowly, but surely we start to change. The idea of change is a scary one. Funny thing, though, is that these changes don’t happen overnight. They happen gradually. It starts out painful, but it becomes a new normal, and all of a sudden, we find ourselves completely different from how we were before.
The other major challenge that comes with living a Christian life is that not everyone is going to like it. We get called names like “small minded,” “backwards-thinking,” and “foolish.” Sometimes, the name calling turns into outright harassment in the name of making sure that people stay in their “safe spaces.” In the most extreme cases, some Christians are even killed for what they believed in.
1 Peter debunks another popular misconception about Christianity: the idea that people are only Christian for some kind of personal gain. Yes, we all long for Heaven and we all want to go to Heaven, but ideally, we pursue Heaven with God in our hearts and not ourselves. Being a Christian doesn’t make our earthly lives will get any better when we have to endure suffering, but, like the changes that we implement into our lives, our suffering is done for the greater glory of God. So, to echo the very famous British catchphrase,
Peter asks us to
“Keep Calm and Carry On.”
Having Jesus Christ in our lives is a gift that we receive in Baptism, but it comes with great responsibility. If we live Christ-filled lives, we open ourselves to being refined, to be changed for the better. In spite of the sufferings we have to endure, 1 Peter reminds us that we suffer for a good reason. That there is more to this life than what we see, than what we suffer. There is eternity.