September 20, 2015
Trusting in the Lord
Suffering Like Christ
1 Peter 2:18-25
We do not get much snow like we use to.
- I remember one time when I was in grade school we had a horrible snow/ice combination.
- We were without power for several days.
- Since our heating system used electricity we relied on our fireplace.
- One thing that made things awesome was that we cooked over the fire!
I wonder what life would be like today?
- No computer, cell phones, TV, etc.
Let's take this situation a step further.
- Imagine that there is a shortage of fuel, no cars, no trains, no planes...no transportation!
- Now all of the sudden life is totally different.
- I think my life would probably include a lot of reading, studying the Bible but in reality I would probably be chopping wood and such.
In the ancient world, more or less everything that today is done by electricity, gas and motorized engines was done by slaves.
- We must not think about slavery in terms of our own history of slavery.
- Not all masters were abusive but there were certainly times when slaves were abused (sexually and physically) and exploited in a hundreds of different ways.
- If we want to sneer at ancient societies for being so barbaric, we should be careful.
- They might just sneer back at some ways that we still enslave people still today.
Peter addresses slaves and masters.
- I will admit that these verses trouble lots of people but there is a powerful lesson here for us.
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 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. 21 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. 1 Peter 2:18-21
Peter addresses these Christian slaves.
- Instead of telling them (as we might prefer) that they should rise up in revolt against their masters, he tells them to obey, and to show respect.
- And he stresses this, not only when the masters in question are kindly and fair-minded, but also when they are unjust.
Putting up with unjust suffering looks, to us, very much like colluding with wickedness.
- Many a violent household, many an abusive workplace, has been able to continue acting wickedly because people have been afraid to speak out.
- 'Whistle blowing' on such behaviour can cost you your job, your home or even, in extreme cases, your life.
Peter would likely tell us to stay with him and things will become more clear.
Peter invites followers of Jesus to inhabit his extraordinary story.
- To embrace it as their own, and to make them the pattern of their lives as well.
- What in particular is Peter challenging these Christians, and us, to experience?
The crucifixion of Jesus was the most unjust and wicked act the world had ever seen.
- Here was the one man who deserved nothing but praise and gratitude, and they rejected him, beat him up, and killed him.
- To understand this, Peter goes back, as many early Christians did, to Isaiah (chapter 53).
- Jesus, the royal figure of the ‘servant’ is called to carry out God’s worldwide saving purposes.
- He does so precisely by being unjustly treated, being insulted but not replying in kind, suffering without throwing back curses at his torturers.
- The wound in which He suffered HEALED!
Jesus became the scapegoat for us!
- He took on the punishment that we should have received in order that we might be saved.
Now, having gone through all of this we see how important it is for Peter to say what he does about slaves and masters.
Suffering Like Jesus
He isn’t simply recommending that people remain passive while suffering violence.
- He is urging them to realize that the sufferings of Jesus was not only the means by which we are rescued from our own sin.
- Through suffering as He did the world itself may be brought to a new place.
This is hard to believe.
- It looks, to many, as though it’s a way of not confronting the real issue.
- Peter believes that the death and resurrection of Jesus was and is the point around which everything else in the world revolves.
- He is saying, we must see all the unjust suffering of God’s people as participating with the suffering of His Son.
As I was meet and worship here this morning, Christians who live in other countries, trying to exercise their faith, are barely tolerated and often persecuted.
- The message coming out of these countries is that things have become very bad.
- Livelihoods have been taken away...the authorities always seem to be closing in.
When we hear such a message, we feel helpless.
- Somehow though, in prayer, those of us who read 1 Peter in comfortable freedom have a deep responsibility to help our brothers and sisters for whom the persecution of which Peter speaks is a daily reality.