South Sydney Anglican Church

“PRECIOUS” 8th Sunday Series on 1 & 2 Peter

18 June 2023

Bible Passage: 1 Peter 4:7-11

It is God’s Will that we Suffer for what is Good, not Evil

Intro:    Morning South Sydney Anglican Church. My name is Matt Johnson and today as we continue our study of 1 Peter – Peter makes it clear that in this fallen world suffering is unavoidable. So, Peter calls us to follow Jesus’ example choosing to suffer for what is good, rather than suffer for what is evil.

Prayer:   Well last week Peter said; “it is better to suffer for what is good, than to suffer for what is evil.” (1Pet.3:18). So today we are going to think about Christian suffering because I know this is what itching ears want to hear. (PAUSE) NOT REALLY! I’m being facetious. No one – wants to talk about suffering or think about suffering. Ever! But why? Do we think that denying the reality of suffering will make it go away?

For instance, is there anyone here that can say they have never suffered? You know – is there anyone who doesn’t know what I’m talking about when I use the word – “suffering?” (PAUSE) No one? That in itself, is a telling reality. We live in a world where people are trying to avoid suffering at all costs. People will break their marriage vows, abort babies and move around the world to avoid suffering. Yet, we must all be pathetic failures, because in a room of 60-70 people – all of you seem to be familiar with suffering. So what’s going wrong?

The word suffering comes from the Greek word “pathos”. In the Bible it is often linked with Jesus’ crucifixion – the ultimate symbol of suffering. The word pathos or suffering can also be translated passion. Hence “the Passion of the Christ”. But it is passion in the negative sense. Not a strong desire to have something, but a strong desire to avoid or escape something. Pathos is a negative experience of life (that can be felt) physically, mentally, emotionally, personally and even spiritually.

Now I know enough of your stories to know that many of you are familiar with suffering. Often this suffering has come because of other people doing evil to you – which has caused great pain.

But we can’t entirely blame our suffering on others. Many of us have experienced suffering because of our own crime, greed or foolishness. Others of us have suffered because we chose to medicate ourselves with alcohol or drugs or gambling. This was our choice. Still others of us have endured suffering because we pursued relationships outside of Gods plan – both heterosexual and homosexual.

But if man is essentially good and the world is good – why all this suffering? Last week, I explained secular humanism is a religion that believes man is essentially good and because man is essentially good we should love our fellow man (as he is), put our faith in man’s ability and our hope in man fixing all the problems of this world. Then, the theoretical hypothesis is that working together – we will overcome suffering and create a wonderful heaven for ourselves on earth. This is the religion of secular man. Secular man puts his faith in himself. Man is his own Saviour and this may be why 666 is called the number of man in Revelation 13.

Now of course, it’s a nice theory that the United Nations is pedalling. All of the nations of the world should gather together around a giant tower of Babel singing Kumbaya as we worship ourselves. But is man really good? Can the weak really trust the strong. And does man really have the ability to solve all the problems of this world and create a perfect utopia free from suffering? Sadly, 2 weeks ago – all the AI experts around the world became prophets of dystopia, rather than utopia. It was most bizarre – watching the smartest AI guys in the world (including Geoffrey Hinton) admit Google and Open AI may have just sealed humanity’s extinction. It was like – good one guys. I think I’ll put my trust in smart people. But seriously – Peter is telling us to keep our faith and hope in Jesus – because he alone will free us from suffering when we arrive at the celestial city of heaven. Until then suffering unavoidable, so suffer for what is good rather than what is evil …

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