1 Peter 2:19-25
2:19 For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly.
2:20 If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.
2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.
2:22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
2:23 When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.
2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
2:25 For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.
The audience in which Peter is writing to were a group of Christians who had no place in society. Due to their faith in God they became exiles and aliens. They had no status in the towns that they lived in. They were being marginalized, worked as slaves and some were undocumented works of their time.
Peter here is encouraging them that their suffering is for a just cause. It is due to their love for God that they are enduring such hardships. Their devotion to God however is not in vain. They are doing what is right and Peter is saying if they were suffering for doing something wrong, then they would have nothing worth gaining from it.
God looks down at the ones who are truly devoted to Him and He cherishes it and stamps His hand of approval and love. He knows and understands that suffering for the Christian faith is hard because Jesus Christ Himself endured a type of suffering that was far worse then anything anyone has ever endured. He took on the sins of the world so that we could be free of our sin and pursue living for righteousness.
Peter is calling their suffering, a righteous pursuit. It is a path in which they are living for God alone and it is a life that is honoring, glorifying and pleasing God. This is an encouragement to strengthen our hearts and keep pursuing an going and deeper relationship with God. One day our hardships will come to an end and we will spend eternity with our loving Savior with the freedom to worship and praise Him forevermore.
The state of the Christian churches was weak in the first century. They were under attack from all angles. Peter had the task of overseeing many problems in the church. Because of these trials Peter’s letters often speak of enduring hardships. In the selected passage for today, Peter is encouraging slaves to endure their lot in this life so that they can be raised up by God in the next. This idea runs a bit contrary to Paul’s opinions on slavery but I think it’s important to remember that an uprising of slaves in the Roman empire would have lead to the slaughter of the Jews, Christians, and much worse. Peter was doing two things. He was trying avoid a Roman conflict and he was trying to keep people focused on the next life, when we will be with Jesus.
Life is complex. We face trials and pitfalls everyday. Like the early church we also find ourselves in circumstances that we cannot change. But we must endure even the evil of this world and be a light to the world until we go to be with the Lord. For, in doing so we are glorifying God and following in the Lord’s footsteps.
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