Terms and Conditions
You can’t do much online without agreeing to terms and conditions of use. And once we have checked the “I agree” box, credit cards, social media platforms, and websites will notify us from time to time that their legal policies have changed—and that in order to continue using the services they provide, we must accept the new ones.
Changes like these can be frequent and subtle. It’s virtually impossible to notice or keep track of them all. Fortunately, though, the terms and conditions of being a follower of Christ have never changed, and they never will. They can’t be revoked or adapted to our preferences, because God established them. In these verses, the Son of God is setting out the “terms and conditions” for becoming one of His people and being given eternal life.
We sometimes tend to act as though we have to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps in order to obey the Lord. But the truth is quite the contrary! The Bible says that just as we trust in Jesus as a response to His initiative and grace (Ephesians 2:8), so that same grace also sustains us and makes it possible for us to keep following Him (Philippians 1:6). He shapes our minds, our morals, our manners, and our means so we can be brought under the control of the one whom we’ve declared as Majesty.
One of the “conditions” of following Christ, then, is that our lives are no longer about us. Our individual identities and goals are not the priority. We are instead transformed to bear fruit that is visible to the outside world through our union with Christ. He calls us to radically denounce self-idolatry.
Through denying ourselves, we take up our cross and follow Him. Unfortunately, the metaphor of “taking up our cross” is often trivialized; we would be well served to remember that being crucified was actually one of the most brutal, horrible forms of execution that humanity has ever devised. By using the image of bearing a cross, Jesus is emphasizing that discipleship carries a great cost.
But Christ is not calling us to do anything that He has not already done. It was on a cross that He bought us at a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). Walking with Him in discipleship is therefore a march both towards death to one’s old self and towards eternal life. It’s not a stroll but a living sacrifice, because we are not our own. But take heart, for there is also beauty in that march. One day, the Son of Man will return in power and glory, and in His kingdom redeem what is broken. Until then, losing our lives on behalf of the kingdom of God is a good buy, no matter the price.
1 Peter 3:13-22
13Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.
18For Christ also suffered2 once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19in which3 he went and proclaimed4 to the spirits in prison, 20because5 they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
1 Peter 4:1-11
Stewards of God's Grace
1Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh,1 arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3For 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. 4With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6For 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.
7The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11whoever 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.
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