by Christopher Harbin

As We Received
Christopher B. Harbin
1 Peter 4:1-11

There is a refrain repeated throughout the Old Testament, ''Remember, for you were once slaves in Egypt.'' That refrain became a consistent reminder of the need of the nation of Israel to act toward others with empathy. They had been homeless, outsiders, migrants, immigrants, slaves seeking survival in a heartless and uncaring society. Consistently, then, the text with call to remember, to empathy, would charge the nation to respond to the needy before them in the same manner with which God had showered them with grace, mercy, and a new lease on life, liberty, and opportunity. As God had blessed them, they were to be a blessing to others. Why is it so hard for us to live according to that sense of empathy?

My family cheered and suffered with Brazil's World Cup game against Chile, yesterday. We were anxious for our team's performance, even while we were rather confident of an eventual win. That confidence in an eventual outcome did not mean an emotional smooth sailing through the game. At the same time, we joined friends from Chile experiencing a very different game as they cheered for our opposition. It did not make us enemies, but called us to see the game from more than one perspective, an attempt to rejoice with them for their successes, even while we sought a different outcome-empathy.

For some reason, we get the idea that as Christians we should live lives of comfort, wealth, and material blessing. We get the idea that we are children of the King of the Universe, and therefore deserve what others only hope to achieve. We get the idea that Jesus died in order that we might drive the latest model cars, live in the most luxurious of homes and gated neighborhoods, vacation in exotic locations, and never lack in the satisfaction of our whims and personal desires.

While there is truth to the concept that it is not God's desire to make us suffer needlessly, we must grasp the reality of life even as Jes ...

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