Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.
Leaving the Old Life Behind
Pagans make choices in line with who they perceive themselves to be. They don’t really understand why Christians don’t join in with their fun, because it is all that they know. However, Christian’s pleasure comes from service of Jesus. It may sound sadistic, but Christians get pleasure out of suffering because it is an honour to suffer for Jesus. Christians also know that fleeting, selfish choices have eternal results. Reckless, wild living overindulges the senses in ways that leave them dulled. Reckless, wild living leads to broken relationships and heartache. Partying is not a twenty-first century invention, people have been going wild for years.
What motivates this behaviour? Some people have experienced pain and the numbing of the senses through sex, drugs, or alcohol takes the suppresses the pain for a while. Unfortunately, choosing sex, drugs, and alcohol to drown sorrows often gives rise to more. A lack of satisfaction with what one has can lead one into a vain quest for more. Lust believes that I am being deprived of ultimate pleasures or fears that they will never be mine. Teens drink alcohol before they can really make wise decisions regarding its consumption. Youths have sex because they don’t believe that they should wait for the security of marriage. People take drugs so that they can find the elusive highs which they crave. Such cravings shorten life. The body was made for peace and harmony. There is a tranquil satisfaction that God wants for us. Religion is not about the alternative to sex, drugs, and alcohol. What I mean is, we are not meant to lose ourselves in some spiritual experience that numbs us or makes us uncontrollably wild. Our experience of God, through Christ, should be a sustainable life with its quiet moments and excited outbursts. But we look to God’s leading, we don’t take our resources and dissipate them over a short period of time. Like a person who knows the quality of the ice-cold beverage they drink on a day where the heat is relentless, the Christian draws out the moment and savours it. We become aware that every moment is precious because we share it with our Lord Jesus Christ.
The quality of the relationship is a deep mystery. It is hard to explain. However, once a false selfish religion gives way to a pursuit of God, nothing in life seems the same. The parties of writhing bodies, intoxicated beneath strobe lights begins to look like empty shells of containing malnourished souls, mindlessly dancing their way to hell.
In the name of freedom, we have made choices to embrace destructive lifestyles. Help us to see reality in light of our future hope. Help us to see the darkness that surrounds the partying and carousing that many of us once embraced. There is more joy in the shared experience of a family picnic than there is in a passionate liaison with a stranger. Help us to remember that the senses are best used to look out from a mountain over creation, not to be flooded by drugs and alcohol. Help us to take time to question why we want unhealthy things. We give over to you the corrupted desires of our former life. Heighten our senses to your presence. Let us be satisfied with you.
- What does suffering in the body show?
- What does seeking pleasure as the greatest good show?
- Why do you think Peter had to remind suffering Christians of the judgment at the end of time?
- Why does the church in the west keep quiet about living with final judgment in mind?
- What life have you left behind? How would you talk to someone enticed to go back to it?