This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on June 4, 2017.
Of all of the wonders of creation, the human body may be the most amazing.
For example, consider the human sense of smell. Although it is hotly debated in scientific circles, some have estimated that the nose is capable of discerning a trillion different scents. Consider the human eye. It contains 120 million sensitive structures called cones. They are very sensitive to light, but not to color. If we only had them imagine how different our perception of the world would be. There are 6 to 7 million structures called cones concentrated in the eye’s macula region that provide sensitivity to color. Because of them, humans can differentiate an estimated 7-10 million different hues. Consider the human brain. The brain is capable of processing information from the nose, ear, and eye at the same time while also maintaining our hormonal levels, monitoring our heart rate, setting our mood, keeping track of our memories, and keeping us from losing our balance. All of this, the brain can do seamlessly. The human body is a fantastically designed masterpiece of God.
While Paul may not have had our scientific sensitivity to the wonders of the human body, he certainly thought of it as an amazing work of God. In looking at the body, Paul found a metaphor for how the Church should function and for the use of spiritual gifts within the congregation. 1 Corinthians 12:3-13 is not the only time Paul uses the metaphor of the body for the Church; he does so in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 10, and Ephesians 2-4. His argument in this passage is that just as the body is a diversity of members working together, the church is a body of diverse members with diverse gifts working together.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on May 28, 2017.
Like any good work of prose, the book of 1 Peter returns to its major themes as it approaches its conclusion. In 4:12-14, 5:6-11 the text points the reader to what has been asserted from the beginning, that suffering is part of the Christian experience. The closing, however, is not mere recapitulation. It gives fresh insight into the purposes of suffering and direction about how to endure suffering.
The believer is not to be surprised by suffering. On Palm Sunday 2017 terrorists attacked two Coptic Christian congregations in Egypt killing 44 and wounding over 100. Christians in the Middle East and other parts of the world routinely face suffering in the form of persecution. The persecution of believers has become so widespread and frequent that seeing reports of it on the news is almost normal. If this text were to be read by Christians in Egypt, the application would be straightforward. Do no be surprised that suffering and persecution is part of your experience. Jesus suffered, and believers are not above their Master.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on May 21, 2017.
This passage is full of difficulties, allusions to apocryphal literature, and obscure references that make it easy to get lost in the process of interpretation. In fact, if the minister is not very careful, he or she will be found trying to find out who are the spirits in prison, why Jesus preached to them, and how His preaching affected them, among other difficulties. Rather than get lost in these obvious difficulties, it would be better for the minister to focus on what can be readily understood in the passage. By looking at the book as a whole and the context of the passage, the meaning of the passage can be discerned.
In 1 Peter suffering is a very common theme. In the very beginning of the book, believers are encouraged to endure trials and suffering just as the prophets had endured them. Not only does the concept of suffering appear in the opening of the book, but it is also found throughout the text. The word suffering appears twenty times in the book. Further, the author goes out of his way to use the term suffering when it is not necessary. For example, the author uses “suffering” instead of “death” in 4:1 when referring to the crucifixion of Jesus. In 3:18 there is good reason to believe “suffered” is the correct word instead of “died” as some translations use.
Now I Peter’s emphasis on suffering does not necessarily mean that this passage is about suffering, but the context leans heavily in that direction. Verse 13 begins by talking about the harm that could come to the believer and discusses suffering immediately. Not only that, the passage mentions Christ’s suffering repeatedly; and it is followed by another section on suffering beginning in 4:1. If one is to get to the heart of the passage’s meaning one must look at it in the context of suffering.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on May 14, 2017.
It was an ordinary day. I was talking with my four-year-old daughter who was riding in the back of my car. Even at her young age, she was spiritually sensitive, so we were talking about God. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, she began to cry almost uncontrollably. She cried, “Daddy I can’t see God anymore.” I had no idea what she meant. Reasoning that humans cannot see God, I wondered if she had mistaken God for an object in nature like a cloud or something else. As much as I tried, I could not make sense of what she was seeing and feeling. As I looked at her tear stained cheeks, I did my best to explain that God was everywhere and that while we cannot see God, God is with us. I found my attempt to comfort her feeble. Although she was only 4, my daughter had expressed a common human ailment. She had lost sight of God. In a culture where the number of persons opting out of faith is growing, and others are desperate for the presence of God, helping people who have lost sight of God is an important part of the task of the Church.
So what does one do when one loses sight of God? Where can God be found? 1 Peter 2:2-10 serves as an answer to these and similar questions, although not in an obvious way. Verse 4 reads, “Come to Him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house….” (NRSV). The word “house” was frequently used for the temple in the Old Testament; so the text is claiming that believers are the new temple of God.