The cross, as a symbol of Christianity, has lost a lot of its meaning. You find it everywhere. Scantily clad women dangle it. You see it tattooed on men who are singing about their unChristlike lifestyles. We upholster the cross with cowhide. Adorn it with gold or silver to decorate our walls. The cross in a lot of ways has become a symbol that has lost meaning.
For the early church, when the cross began to be associated with Christianity more and more, the cross was a continual reminder of the life they has been called to. Christ called us to pick up our cross and follow him. The cross is a reminder that we, in all areas of our lives, should become cruciform (shaped like the cross). Peter, as one of the few who witnessed Christ’s sufferings, reminds the Elders and the flock that they till will undergo suffering. If you are living out the cross of Christ suffering will happen. As Elders, they should take their call seriously as servant leaders who look to best serve the flock and to set an example for them. They will receive a reward when the Chief Shepherd appears.
Peter has continued in his push for humility. It isn’t just for those who have high positions but for everyone. Humble yourselves so that you will be lifted up. This is a hard one to grasp. I’ve seen people use this concept in incredibly arrogant ways. Their humility becomes a point of pride and in the end they elevate themselves. Be completely humble with faith knowing that you will be exalted in the end. This is still hard to get my mind around though…because true humility does not look to your own gain. All in all…let the cross shape your life and your humility. You see Jesus agonizing over the upcoming crucifixion while in the Garden. Jesus believed that he would be raised from the dead and glorified in the resurrection. Humbly he went to the cross knowing this to be the reality. We too are called to live humbly knowing that we will be glorified in our resurrection. The cross shapes our humility.
Suffering will happen when you allow the cross to shape your life. Be alert! The devil is present around us always. One of my friends went on safari in Africa and his guide told them that if they could hear the lion then they were safe. I don’t think this would be much comfort for me. The lion does not announce his presence if he is prowling around. Satan acts in the same way. He is crafty and undetected. Be alert! Be sober in your thinking! Have a clear understanding of the faith. In the faith we are united with a family who undergoes the same kind of suffering. We are not alone. The faith we are firm in is the faith that unites the Family of God. After suffering comes glory. He will make us strong, firm, and steadfast. These are things we cannot do ourselves. Submit yourself to God and allow Him to do this for you.
Peter ends his letter with a blessing of peace to all who are in Christ. When we think of peace, we think of a life lacking trial and suffering. Peter has spent a good amount of time talking about how suffering is inevitable and how they should go about living while undergoing suffering. The peace Peter ends with is a peace that is found deep at the core of a your being. It is a peace that is otherworldly. It is a peace that comes from knowing your foundation and security are in Christ. Peace be with you!