Since, therefore, Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), so as to live for the rest of your time in the flesh no longer by human desires but by the will of God. You have already spent enough time in doing what the gentiles like to do, living in debauchery, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme. But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.
Peter’s first letter was to a suffering church, to persecuted believers or those about to undergo persecution for their faith. We know the story well, Christians thrown to the lions, burned at the stake. And then centuries following. Although ever since Constantine changed the Roman empire into a so-called Christian one in which for example only professing Christians could serve in the Roman military, Christians and what is from that, Christendom has sought to take matters into its own hands and that in significant part in order to avoid persecution, and effectively nullify the way of the cross, the path of following Christ.
Today we have another rise of a new push for a Christendom which as someone has said involves Christo-fascist overlords. It is the push away from democracy to an authoritarian rule in which Christian appointed leaders call the shots. And that isn’t just metaphorical, because in all such so-called Christian rule, which is not really Christian at all in any way, shape or form, there will be force and violence. Instead of depending on the good news of Christ in which people choose to follow and living bodies of Christ are formed, you have a rule of the land which forces its view on everyone.
We can expect, just as Jesus experienced, to receive the most trouble from the religious over us, namely those who name the name of Christ. These are the most dangerous, because they are the most self-assured, and are steeped in a kind of Christendom which they feel and somehow think needs to be imposed on the world. It amounts to a white Christian nationalism which is cultic in the sense that it has people in its grip with the works of the flesh (Galatians 5) needed to ensure its existence as opposed to the true fruit of love for God and neighbor in the works of Christ along with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5). And above all again, it nullifies the way of the cross, the true and only path of following Christ.
We are facing difficult times. So as followers of Christ, let’s seek to be wise as serpents while being harmless as doves. Let’s attempt to see clearly who our enemies are along with those who back them and thus amount to enemies as well. Let’s call what is wrong, wrong. And let us love all in the midst of this. And get ready to suffer as Peter instructs us in the passage above. In and through Jesus.