1 Peter 4:4-6(NLT) “Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. But remember that they will have to face God, who stands ready to judge everyone, both the living and the dead. That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead—so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit. ”

Hi, friend! I’m glad you’re back. You made it another day. You’re still standing. You endured. I told Stacie yesterday that I think I am going to get a tattoo on my wrist that says, “Endure.” I am joking a bit, but not totally. Sometimes I need to be reminded that by the power of the Holy Spirit I can faithfully endure whatever this world throws at me. And in the end, by His grace, I’ll still be standing.

Wise king Solomon said, “Seven times a righteous person falls; eight times they get up.” So, let’s rise together for another day. Go ahead and splash some water on your face, take a sip of your coffee or tea, and wake up. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart and mind. Let’s go!

One thing I love about Echo Church, and several of the other churches that have joined us for The Hope Project, is the surprising number of people who have made first-time decisions to follow Jesus. When someone makes a decision to follow Jesus, some things transform overnight, while other things take years to change.

One of the hardest decisions a person has to make after deciding to follow Jesus is what to do with their network of friends. Ideally, you would share with them the change in your life, and your friends would experience what you’ve experienced. We have intentionally designed Echo Church to help you make a difference in the lives of those around you. So after you publicly declare your love for Jesus, some friends and family members will come with you.

Other friends will likely stand in judgment. Peter literally uses the words, “they are surprised that you do not run with them.” The new light in your life exposes the darkness in theirs. Your new purpose reveals the emptiness of their ways. Your peace reveals their angst, and you now are a reminder to them of what is missing in their life.

Let’s be real, not every one of our old friends will act like this. But some will, and they can cause a ton of grief. Part of you feels conflicted because you want to love them to Jesus, but their very presence is toxic to your soul. It’s really hard when this is someone you are close to—a brother, a sister, a best friend, a childhood friend, your classmate you have been buddies with for five years.

In this passage, Peter gives us HOPE for our struggle by reminding us again of the finish line. At some point the struggle is going to be over and we will stand before God and give an account for the life we’ve lived. In many ways this should make us tremble, but in other ways it should give us a holy longing to see His face and hear His words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

While in high school, I received a lot of ridicule for my new life in Jesus. Several of the guys on the football team mocked me and made fun of my faith. To this day, I’m friends with some of them on Facebook. It’s sad to me to see how many of them are still chasing the same life they chased back then. They continue to pursue worldly things, not realizing the only thing that really satisfies is friendship with the Living God.

My struggle in the locker room of Farmington High School seems so small now. I’m so glad the Holy Spirit walked me through those moments and helped me continue to “run with” Jesus. Back then, I experienced many days when I didn’t feel like it would be worth it. Now I can say without a shadow of doubt, “It was worth it.” When you stand before Jesus and see Him in His glory, every moment of struggle will have been worth it, and you won’t remember the pain.

Peter tells us all of this not to judge others, but to persevere with perspective. Why do you think he then adds this whole “preaching to the dead” thing back in here? See the day before yesterday for my feeble attempt to explain this concept. I think he places it right here to remind us that God doesn’t want anyone to perish.

Short of compromising His character, He will do whatever it takes to help people experience His love. If Jesus, before His death on the cross, would go to Hell and back to offer everyone the opportunity of eternal life, how important do you think sharing the Good News is to the heart of God? Pretty important!

Jesus wants His people to join Him in this mission. Sometimes people won’t come with us, but we keep moving, keep sharing, and keep bringing hope to those around us. Other than running with them in their ways, we do everything we can to love on those around us who don’t know Jesus.

If you are being mocked or mistreated for your faith today, I pray that God would give you a long-term perspective in order that you might persevere. If you have lost your passionate concern for those who live in spiritual darkness, I pray that Jesus ignites your heart with urgency to share His Good News with others.

Father, I pray that you would help us persevere in the face of misunderstanding. Help us endure when we are mistreated. Help us care about lost people as much as you do!

In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.