Whether intentional or not, much of our evangelism and sharing the gospel has neglected the reality of suffering in the Christian life. Truly, the gospel is the Good News! Yet, the fear of failing to share the truth of suffering for the faith paints a rosy-colored portrait of Christianity that is simply false. Your best life is not now but is the life to come. Certainly, there is great joy to be found in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, but the means of growing in that relationship is not through self-comfort but through Son-conformity (Romans 8:28-29). This usually occurs by the means of suffering. Suffering does not only grow us to be more like Christ but it can also be a tool to point others to Christ. This is what Peter is getting at after his exhortation on living honorably by submitting to governmental authority. Christians glorify God by honoring those who are in authority over them. He now adds for servants to be subject to their masters. The same principle applies: we must submit to those in authority. Of course, the objection still is quickly raised, “But what if those in authority are unjust?” Peter’s answer is consistent: submit. To be clear, this is not a call to be passive and to take abuse without seeking help. Rather, the call is to suffer even when one may not deserve it. In other words, it is an exhortation to endure unjust suffering because it highlights the grace of God in seeking to glorify God. How does it do that? By reminding us of the person and work of Christ and calling us to follow His example. Christ is the one who faced the ultimate unjust suffering, dying a death on the cross He did not deserve and absorbing the wrath of God we deserved for our rebelling against Him. The sinless Savior suffered for us so that we could be saved, and only then can we follow His example (2:21). Therefore, even in our suffering we follow Christ. To suffer like the Savior means we do not respond in sin and deceit (2:22) and we do not repay in condemnation or threats (2:23a), but we entrust ourselves to God. When we personally face unjust suffering, we leave it in the hands of the Just Judge (2:23). In all honesty, to not seek revenge can be difficult, if not impossible. Without the power of God by the Holy Spirit, that is true. For Christians, though, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to empower and enable us to do what we cannot do in our own power. We know we can trust God, the Just Judge, by looking to the cross (Romans 3:26). Christ died for us and rose again so that “we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (2:24). The righteous way of life is trusting in Christ and we do that by suffering for Him and point others to Him in our suffering. It is by His sacrifice we are healed and it is by His shepherding we are reconciled to the Father (2:25). Because of His suffering and glory, we can receive salvation and suffer like the Savior.
- How does the reality of suffering in the Christian life affect the way you respond to hardships and the way you share the gospel with others?
- How can you suffer like the Savior the next time you face unjust hardship and suffering?