This Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) reading from 1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11 serves as another example of how the RCL softens the message of scripture through strategic edits. First, read through the passages as presented in many a church this morning,
4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.
5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 8 Discipline yourselves; keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. 10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
That sounds well enough. To their credit the editors included mention of "the devil" for the Sunday pewsitters' ears.
Now, read what was cut out, and try to figure out what was offensive,
4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief-maker. 16 Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. 17 For the time has come for judgement to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinners?’
19 Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good.
5:1 Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you 2 to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it—not for sordid gain but eagerly. 3 Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away. 5 In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for
‘God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.’
If the editors of the RCL were an artificial intelligence (A.I.) program, then I would guess that someone programmed it to look for key words such as "judgement" (v. 4:17), "obey" (v. 4:17), "sinners" v. 4:18, and "the proud" (v.5:5). These patterns show up if you pay attention to what the RCL leaves out.
"God opposes the proud."
Now that's a good line to put on your t-shirt when you attend one of next month's "Pride" parades.
Be sure to wear the full armor of God if you do.