March 11 - 1 Peter 2:18-25

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

1 Peter 2:18-25 – Enduring

Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 

      “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”  

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

While the idea of slavery is abhorrent to us, it was a reality in the time of Jesus and his disciples. Paul's letters generally dealt with guidelines for the masters of slaves and by Peter's asking the slaves to act morally gave them privileges and expectations that most outside the Christian faith did not.

This code of conduct is set out for all - not just for slaves.  I think that for nearly all of us, the idea of enduring a beating for doing wrong - or for doing good is unacceptable. The idea of suffering for any reason is also just as unacceptable.  If there is money available and someone can fix it for us - we don't suffer.  Why should we?

Isaiah 53 is the prophecy around which the 'Suffering Servant' is understood. It was intertwined into the teaching of the Messiah and was a large part of the teachings regarding Jesus Christ. Peter quotes from it in 1 Peter 2:22 and weaves it into his words in 1 Peter 2:25. We are going to continue to read about this in the next chapter.

He reminds us in 1 Peter 2:21 that Christ suffered as an example for us, so that we can follow in his footsteps.  In fact, he says at the end of 1 Peter 2:20 that we are called to this.  What in the world can he mean by that?

While we avoid suffering at all costs, Paul tells us in Romans 5:3 that there are deeper things going on ... Suffering produces perseverance. Perseverance produces character. Character produces hope.  Look back at 1 Peter 1:3.  God has given us new birth into a living hope and into an imperishable inheritance. Peter is teaching the same lesson.  Christ died on the cross (Peter uses 'tree' as a euphemism in 1 Peter 2:24) so that we can return.

Very few of us know or understand what it is like to actually suffer in the name of Christ. I'm not suggesting that any of us should actually pray for that understanding. I know from experience that asking God for teaching on something like that generally gets a response.  But, I do believe that when we are faced with it, we might learn to ask God what it is that He wants us to learn before we ask Him to remove the suffering.

The road to holiness ... never simple.