In 1 Peter 2: 21-25 there is a vivid description of Jesus’ crucifixion and the gospel. This was a scripture used for a sermon I received this past Easter.
In reading it I noticed the context. It is set in the context of slaves being mistreated, and following earthly leaders. The charge is found in verse 19: ‘For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.’ Then he says in verse 21: ‘to this you were called because’ and then recounts the crucifixion.
The idea here is: ‘For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.’ (vs 15)
This is a challenging teaching for me. Of course it must be seen in the context of the whole bible. Daniel didn’t submit to the authorities when he prayed and disobeyed the laws of the land. But Jesus didn’t make a case for himself when receiving false accusations during his trial. So what are we to do?
The answer comes in chapter three. In 1 Peter 3:17 Peter writes: ‘It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.’ In verse 13 and 14a Peter writes: ‘Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear”
It seems there is a trust factor herein that we are admonished to trust God in spite of the circumstances. Somehow our submission to leaders, even when mistreated, testifies to God by virtue of being a good citizen or slave. It doesn’t mean that we go against God’s law, and it doesn’t mean that we let the behavior continue. But at the moment we do submit and do not stoop to evil.
Martin Luther King would be a modern day example of this. His life, and his death accomplished and continues to accomplish much. A non-violent legal and peaceful response to unjust treatment.
What do you think about this? To what extent does our conforming and suffering go in order to testify to Jesus?