Summary: Jesus lived and died for me so that I can die and live for Him
Did you know that there are a number of online calculators that will calculate your life expectancy? Just for the fun of it, I tried a few of them this week. Some of them, like the once used by the Social Security Agency are pretty simple, requiring you only to submit your birthdate, and they calculate your life expectancy based on overall averages of people living in the United States. According to them I can expect to live to be 83.4 years old.
Another calculator, developed by professors at the University of Pennsylvania, requires you to enter several different lifestyle factors. That calculator predicted that I will live to be 90 years old. I like that one better.
Finally, I went to one called The Death Clock and that calculator actually predicted the exact date of my death on Sunday, April 20 2031 at the age of 74 years, 3 months and 29 days. Obviously that was my least favorite.
Clearly nobody but God Himself knows exactly when we will die. But as I fooled around with those calculators this week, it got me thinking. What if I really did know exactly when I was going to die? My guess is that I’m not the only one here this morning who has thought about that. And certainly all of us know people who have come face to face with that question because of a medical diagnosis in which they are only given a limited amount of time to live.
So let’s just imagine for a moment that every one of us in this room knew exactly when we were going to die. What kind of difference would that make in our daily lives? Would we be like Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson and develop a bucket list and spend the rest of our life trying to fulfill it? Would we be more attentive to our relationships with the people we love? Would we have a greater sense of urgency about our walk with Jesus?
Those are some of the kinds of questions that undoubtedly came to Peter’s mind as he wrote his letter to the Christians in Asia Minor who were facing tremendous persecution for their faith in Jesus. The truth is that it was possible, and even likely, that some of them would, just like Peter himself, die rather soon because of their faith. So in light of that possibility, Peter writes to them about how they were to live out the rest of their days in light of that real possibility.
In effect, Peter is writing to them, and to us, to describe the kind of spiritual bucket list that God desires for us to develop and fulfill in our lives, especially as we live in a world that is hostile to Jesus. Turn with me to 1 Peter chapter 4 and follow along as I read beginning in verse 1:
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
(1 Peter 4:1-11 ESV)
Although they certainly don’t rise to the same level as what we dealt with last week, there are two portions of this passage that do present somewhat of a challenge in trying to understand what Peter is trying to convey here. So let’s tackle them first and then we can proceed to draw some practical principles from this passage.
The first challenge is in verse 1 in trying to determine what Peter meant when he wrote: