This past summer a group of women from Karis Church were able to attend The Gospel Coalition's Women's Conference in Indiana. A couple of the women graciously shared their experiences with at the conference. You can check out Delilah's post here.
This June, I had the privilege of attending the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference in Indianapolis with my mom, sister, aunt, and two of my friends from Karis Jeff City (and baby Jack came along too!). Not only was the time away a great time of fellowship and building of friendship with the women I went with, but it was also spiritually refreshing and encouraging for my heart. This was my second time attending this conference as I had gone for my first time back in 2012. This time around I was definitely a lot more excited to go since I have developed more and more respect and appreciation for the work and ministry of the Gospel Coalition. The theme of this conference was Resurrection Life in a World of Suffering based on 1 Peter. I really enjoyed how the conference sessions walked through the whole book of 1 Peter. It allowed me to get an intensive overview on 1 Peter which is something that I appreciate more and more as I study scripture. This is something that I really appreciate about Karis as I realize how beneficial exegetical preaching is for equipping the saints.
As each session took place, there was the theme of suffering was woven within each one as well as an in depth look at each passage of 1 Peter that was approached. I enjoyed different things about each session, but one session in particular that stood out to me was the session given by Mary Wilson who is the associate director of women’s initiatives for the Gospel Coalition.
Mary spoke on 1 Peter 2:11 - 3:12:
 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.  Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,  or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.  Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.  Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.  Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.  For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.  For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.  For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.  He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.  When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.  He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.  For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:11-25 ESV)
 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,  when they see your respectful and pure conduct.  Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.  For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands,  as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.  Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.  Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.  Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.  For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;  let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:1-12 ESV)
Right off the bat, one of the things that Mary said was that part of our Christian status includes the fact that we are far from home. I think this really puts things into perspective if we think about how we should approach different scenarios that we face each day and throughout different seasons of our life. For example, with the upcoming election. If we see this world as our home, we might find ourselves devastated with the candidates who are running. We could easily find ourselves feeling hopeless. However, if we were to see this as a temporary place that we are passing through, we would recognize the hope that we have waiting for us in heaven and not be in distress with the outcome of November’s election. There is much more hope in our lives when we approach life with that sort of outlook as believers. This whole concept is where we get the commonly used term “sojourner” which means a person who resides in a temporary place.
Mary also went on to talk about the ways in which our new conduct as believers comes through in four relational ways: our civic life, professional life, marital life, and everyday life. I think because this session really hit on so many different aspects of life, that’s what really made what Mary had to say resonate with me.
The big concept that I walked away with after Mary’s session was the distinct status that we have as believers and how that should affect our lives. As believers we are called to be set apart from this world. 1 Peter 2:21 says, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example so that you might follow his steps.” Our status as followers of Christ sets us apart from the rest of the world. Sometimes this is really challenging to live in a way that is different, but in the long run, if we remember that this world is not our home, we can find comfort in what’s to come for us in eternity. The message of Peter is that we need to be set apart from the world, but also know that our Savior understands the suffering that we may have to endure while being set apart.
Being reminded of the fact that our sufferings are understood by our Savior brings a lot of comfort to the believer and more specifically to myself. If as believers, we put our comfort and our security in our government, our marriages, our friendships, or even our kids, we are making our identity something that is not part of our distinct status. However, if we find our rest in the fact that our distinct status is that we are the beloved children of God (c.2:11) then we will be able to remember that we are sojourners who are passing through on the way to our true home.