Back in the day, I’d always laugh when a co-worker would remind me that “paranoia is just smart thinking when everybody’s against you.” This morning, I’m reminded of another kind of smart thinking as I read in 1Peter.
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.
(1Peter 4:1-2 ESV)
Arm yourselves with the same way of thinking. It’s a command to obey. And it’s what I’m chewing on this morning.
Peter is writing to those who are taking it in the teeth. Encouraging Christians you are on the run because of persecution. Writing to believers whose lives are really, really hard just because they believe. To families who are walking through the flames simply because of their faith. To moms and dads whose kids are being put through the ringer just because mom and dad won’t recant.
You gotta think that at least some of them are thinking, at least some of the time, there must be an easier way. Wondering if, with a little bit of compromise, there might not also be a little more comfort. That by putting themselves first it might provide a bit more safety. That by not being so overt about their allegiance to the kingdom of heaven, and trying to fit in a bit more with the world around them, it might ease their suffering for Jesus.
So Peter writes to these “elect exiles” (1Pet. 1:1) to encourage them to keep on keepin’ on. To hang in there. To remain faithful. To press on for the prize. To fight the good fight. And in fighting that fight, to arm themselves with smart thinking.
Apparently the original word used for arm is only used here in the New Testament. Literally a verb meaning to equip with a weapon. Weaponize yourself. Grab the utensil needed for the job. And the instrument of choice when tempted to try and ease suffering for the will of God by yielding to human passions? The same way of thinking that Christ demonstrated when He suffered in the flesh. Following the example that Christ left for those who would suffer after Him (2:19-24). Suffering for doing good, “if that should be God’s will” (3:17). Not being surprised, not becoming discouraged to the point of tapping out, but, in fact, rejoicing.
And how’s that possible? By arming themselves with smart thinking, the same way of thinking that Christ had when He suffered for righteousness sake.
How did Christ think about His suffering? He endured the cross and despised the shame for the joy set that was before Him (Heb. 12:2). He considered the long game. Put His here and now in the context of the glorious there and then. That’s the mind of Christ. That’s being armed with smart thinking.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.
(1Peter 4:12-13 ESV)
We can rejoice now in our “various trials” (1:6) because of that coming day when His glory is revealed. We can tough it out today because we bring every thought captive and think about an out-of-this-world (literally) tomorrow. We look over the shoulder of the trials confronting us at this moment and we see Jesus who could come again at any moment.
Thus enduring. Maybe even rejoicing. And all because we’re armed with smart thinking.
By His grace. For His glory.