To This, You Have Been Called
"For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps." (1 Peter 2:21, ESV)
I think it's safe to say through observation and conversation, that due to the coronavirus and quarantines, there has been a huge spike in feelings of depression, loneliness, and
directionlessness more than ever for many people. A lot of us may be without jobs, without income, and without a plan. So many people left without an idea of what they're going to do. It's of course no surprise that the solitude and anxiety has begun to cause spiritual decay in many people's hearts. We see the zeal, fervency, and passion slowly decrease with so many brothers and sisters in Christ. Maybe you or someone you know has hopelessly isolated themselves to the point of feeling like they have lost their purpose entirely, or perhaps convinced themselves that they have compromised their calling. Perhaps you stopped the direction of where you were headed because of quarantine and need direction, but can't seem to figure out where to begin.
Killing apathy always requires action. Simply thinking about something will never cause change. For example, thinking about and desiring to pray more will never bring us into fellowship with Christ the way it does when we actually commit ourselves to prayer. Thinking about getting in the word again will never set your heart on fire again the way it does when you actually open up the book and read. I'd like to encourage you, if you've allowed the stresses of current events to lead you into spiritual apathy to the point where you don't even feel purpose anymore, step out and openly talk to someone about Jesus who you've never spoken about Him to. Begin to speak about Him publicly, in an intentional evangelistic way.
So many Christians are hiding their faith ever since the quarantine began. They're embarrassed and some even borderline ashamed of their faith. They're afraid to let the cat out of the bag because of how much of a bad stigma the Church has gotten over the last several months of disease and racial tension, and it's become easier and more comfortable to just stay silent than be persecuted.
It's time to come out of hiding. It's time to be unashamed. It's time to set our hearts on fire for Christ again by being intentional in action. It's time to walk in purpose again.
1 Peter 2:21 says "For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps."
See, when Peter says "suffer," the Greek translates to persecution. To experience ill-treatment, or to be acted upon in a certain way on behalf of a person or thing.
So, Peter is saying that because Christ was persecuted for you, He has left an example for what you have been called to. You want to walk in purpose again? You want to know what your calling is? Suffer for the Gospel! Be willing to be persecuted on Jesus' behalf! "For to this, you have been called." Do you want to experience TRUE, long-lasting, impenetrably satisfying joy again? Share in Christ's sufferings.
If there is anything that keeps people from evangelizing and facing persecution, It's the fear of man. Fear of rejection, embarrassment, and confrontation. The only cure to the fear of man is the fear of the Lord. Do you want to be filled with the fear of the Lord again? Haggai 1:12 shows us that the key ingredient is simple and intentional obedience.
"Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, OBEYED the voice of the Lord their God...AND THE PEOPLE AGAIN FEARED THE LORD"
I truly believe, if we would simply step out and obey the Lord's command to make disciples of all nations, and share in His sufferings and persecution, that it would cause us to grow in fear and honor and desire for God, and so destroying the fear of man that keeps us cowering away from speaking out about Christ in the first place. This will cause an overwhelming joy in Christ that will snap you out of your apathy towards Him, and reinvigorate your desires for Him.
Philippians 1:29 says "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ, you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for his sake."
In the case of the word "granted," Paul uses the word "echaristhe," which literally translates as, "To show favor, give freely, or to do something gratifying;" further derived from the root word "Charis," meaning "Grace, kindness, or a gift of grace."
What if we realized that the purpose of suffering for Christ isn't to suppress life, but to GIVE life. The opportunity to be persecuted and suffer on behalf of Jesus is a GIFT of GRACE. It's God's display of kindness and gratification towards us. When Paul writes that we have been GRANTED to suffer for Christ, he's saying that we have been shown FAVOR! The chance to suffer the loss of one's self is God's blessing because it offers us the chance to gain the incomparable riches of the fullness of Christ, in exchange for what is worthless in comparison. To share in the sufferings and persecution of Christ is a GIFT, and is God's KINDNESS, and is PURE JOY!
Titus 3:1 tells us to be obedient; to be ready for every good work. The word "ready" is the same Greek word used in Matthew 24:44 and Luke 12:40, where Christ warns about being ready for His second coming. Essentially, the idea is that we should be equally as ready to do 'every good work' as we are ready for the return of Christ. So many Christians watch current events and all they can think to themselves is, "Jesus is clearly coming back SOON," and they use it as an excuse to hide away and not deal with the world, other people, or the suffering of the present circumstances. So much so, that they see no need to continue to step out into every good work, and continue proclaiming the Gospel, because in their minds, Jesus is basically back anyways, the way things are going. Their focus is on Christ's return, rather than Christ's work. The idea is that they would rather find relief and be alleviated from the suffering for their own sake, rather than continue to suffer through it for Christ's sake.
This is a perfect example of what Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21– mere verses before verse 29 which shows us it is a JOY to suffer– that to continue to live is Christ and to die is gain. People would rather have personal gain for themselves by being taken from this world, rather than fighting for Christ's gain by continuing to be ready for every good work and enduring through this world.
What about us? Are we equally as ready and hungry to do every good work that comes our way, laboring and potentially being persecuted for Jesus, as we are ready and hungry for Him to come back? What God is calling us into is not only to desire for His physical return, but to be in the fullness of His presence all whilst never ceasing to continue on laboring and suffering for the sake of the Gospel, by proclaiming His Good News, evangelizing, responding to every good work, and enduring persecution.
Do you want a new direction after COVID? You want purpose again? You want joy again? You want zeal and passion again? Evangelize. Speak to someone new today. Suffer for His sake, share in enduring what Christ endured for you.
After all, to this, you are called!