Simmering or Boiling?
by Joseph Franks
In studying for my upcoming sermon on 1 Peter, I came across the following statement made by Scot McKnight:
I am arguing that suffering, while it may not be as much a part of the everyday fabric of our lives as it was when Peter was writing, should probably be more a part of our lives than it is … the contrast between the Christian community’s belief in the gospel as well as its commitment to holy living and our culture’s unbelief in the gospel and its permissiveness ought to generate more sparks than it does. I contend that one of the reasons there are so few sparks is because the fires of commitment and unswerving confession of the truth of the gospel are too frequently set on low flame, as if the church grows best if it only simmers rather than boils.*
Friends, let us strive to be winsome in our manner of living life. People are drawn to that which is beautiful and pleasing to the eye. Let us live excellent lives that garner attention. And let us use the interest and intrigue of our neighbors as a means for us to explain the Gospel-reason for our transformed, distinct, and beautiful behavior.
Also, let us strive to converse graciously about Christ, his work, and his will. According to Scripture, our words should be seasoned with salt. They should be carefully and tactfully thought through; they should be choice nuggets of truth placed in settings of gold and silver. There is little gained by being harsh in tone. Very little is accomplished by being negative. Argumentation seems to be discouraged; why would one cast their beautiful pearls before swine? Paul demands that we speak the truth, but we must to do so in love.
However, while we seek to avoid offense and its consequential suffering, let us not avoid offense and suffering at all costs. The best of the Old Testament prophets found themselves at odds with most in the world and many in the church. The same was true of Jesus Christ. He was tender; he was truthful; and trouble seemed to follow wherever he ministered. According to the Teacher, he was destined to be the reason many individuals stumbled and many families were divided. This indeed came to pass. In addition, Jesus promised his winsome and gracious church would be somewhat offensive and very troubled. So again, let us not avoid offense and suffering at all costs. Let us not look to cause trouble, but let us not be surprised when trouble finds us.
And for many of us, perhaps we ought to ask the question, “Why do we not suffer more than we do?” Perhaps it is because we simmer and boil not.
*Scot McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 Peter, p. 75)