Standing Firm in the Faith (1 Peter 5:8-14)

2016-Week 35I hate driving on the interstate in the pouring rain. I am not talking driving in a drizzle. I am talking about when the rain is coming down so fast the windshield wipers cannot keep up with them. It makes it hard to see where you are at and are going. The same is true for the hardships and sufferings we face in life. Oftentimes, when we face trials and when we go through trying circumstances, it can be easy to lose perspective. We begin to isolate ourselves and become bitter because this is not the life we had desired or expected. Yet, for those who are Christians, we must be aware of what is going on around us. As Christians, God has given us the Bible to reveal Himself to do guide us in the proper perspective. We must remember He cares for us (5:7). This is crucial because there is one who would tell you the lie God doesn’t care. The Apostle Peter exposes this liar in 1 Peter 5:8, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” His plan is to tempt you and cause to fall into his trap. Sadly, many have. They have given the devil a foothold and he has made himself at home. But if you have repented of your sins and have trusted in Jesus Christ, you do not give in to the schemes of the devil and lose the perspective of God’s Word. As a Christian, in these times you need to be sober-minded and watchful (5:8). You need to remember the Christian life is a battle and you must be prepared by the power of the Holy Spirit to face it. Through God’s strength, we resist the devil by standing firm in the faith (5:9a). When there are those who ridicule us for our love for Jesus and even those who would threaten us because we hold to the beliefs of the Bible, we do not cave in. Instead, we stand firm. To be sure, we do not stand firm alone. We have brothers and sisters in Christ around us and around the world who face hardships and suffer for their faith in Christ (5:9). The fact we are not alone should bring some comfort. Still, suffering is hard. That is why Peter continues, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” Our trials and sufferings are not without purpose and we do not live without hope. We can be encouraged in the midst of our suffering because it is temporary. For those who repent of their sins and believe in the God of all grace through Jesus Christ will be saved and will enjoy eternal glory. Suffer for a little while to enjoy the glory of Christ for eternity. For the Christian, that is the proper perspective. Declare and stand firm in the true grace of God (5:12). God is working things for His children’s good. He will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish them. Because of His work in us, we can stand firm. Because of His power, we can resist the devil. Because of His grace, we can be saved. May we say with the Apostle Peter about our God, “To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (5:11).

Reflection Questions:

  • How does this passage help you view your sufferings and hardships from a biblical perspective?
  • Why is it tempting during times of trials to give into the temptations of the devil? How can you remind yourself to stand firm in the faith this week?

Clothed with Humility (1 Peter 5:5-7)

2016-Week 34I have never been one to go with the current or popular fashion trends. I do not pay too much attention to the latest news in clothing. I do, however, like the style of bowties and fadoras. When it comes down to it, whether or not we favor a particular style, we wear something. We clothe ourselves. This analogy works in our inner lives as well. After exhorting his fellow elders to shepherd the people of God in the midst of suffering, the Apostle Peter turns his face toward those younger. In a general sense, too, what he is about to say applies to all who are under the leadership God has entrusted the church with. The command we see to those younger in the faith and in life is they are to submit to the leadership of the church. In an autonomous and individualized culture, the word submission is an ugly word. The church, though, is called to be counter-cultural. A great example of this is my friend Katelyn. Recently, she made the comment her pastor preaches both biblically and boldly. He preaches with biblical conviction and Christlike compassion. Her response to his leadership was and is willing submission. Why? Because when the pastors of the church are shepherding in accordance with the Word of God, then to submit to their godly leadership is a beautiful thing. Still, as those who struggle with sin, we do not like to always submit. That is why humility is required. In order to submit to those in authority, we must be humble. In our salvation, we need to be humbled, resulting in repentance of our sins and trust in Christ for salvation because we cannot save ourselves. This humility is not something that we need to have every so often but, rather, something we need every day of our lives. That is why Peter puts it in the terms of verse 5, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another”. The permanent fashion style and trend for the Christian is humility. Humility is seen in a person who is willing to submit to godly leadership and is a reflection of those who have been given the grace of God. Not only is humility made known in submitting to church leadership; humility is made known in casting sufferings and anxieties on God. We cannot handle life on our own. We are not self-sufficient. When we face hardships and sufferings in this life, we can be overwhelmed. Instead of trying to deal with it in our own power, which is pride, we need to humble ourselves and depend on the power and character of God. He is the One who is mighty and He is One who cares for us. Therefore, we humble ourselves by depending on Him. We humble ourselves by submitting to godly leadership. That is how we clothe ourselves in humility.

Reflection Questions:

  • How can you clothe yourself in humility this week by submitting to godly leadership?
  • How can you clothe yourself in humility this week by casting your anxieties and worries on the mighty and powerful God who cares for you?

Shepherding in the Midst of Suffering (1 Peter 5:1-4)

2016-Week 32Throughout the book of 1 Peter, we have observed what it looks like for Christians to suffer for their faith. We have seen we should follow the example of Christ (2:18-25). We have been told when we respond biblically to suffering for righteousness’ sake, we will bless and be blessed. We have been called to suffer so that we may share in Christ’s sufferings and to suffer according to the will of God. Yet, if we limit ourselves to this understanding, we have an insufficient view. Why? Because in our suffering as Christians, we ultimately do not suffer alone. Just as the Christian life is not a lone ranger life, our suffering is not a walk by ourselves. God has given us the church, the gathering of His people, to build one another up and to be a witness collectively, especially during times of suffering. This understanding and application of the church in times of suffering must begin with the leadership. Therefore, the Apostle Peter begins there. Peter directs his exhortation to these men God has called to lead, teach, and oversee the church. He says these fellow elders are “a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed” (5:1). These elders know the sufferings Christ went through and now, as a result, they can partake of the glory Christ has by suffering for the faith. But, in the midst of suffering, what are these elders to do? These pastors are to live out their calling and they are to “shepherd the clock of God that is among you” (5:2). In the midst of suffering, God commands church leaders to shepherd. Shepherd do not merely preach. They most certainly do that, feeding the sheep of God’s fold. The role of a shepherd, however, includes feeding as well as watching and caring. The shepherd is the one who feeds the people God’s Word and who oversees their souls, watching over them and caring enough to confront when there is sin and to comfort when there are hardships. This is what God has called to those who are in leadership of His church to be. He has also directed in His Word how these men are to go about their shepherding. They are to shepherd God’s flock humbly and honestly. They do not do this under obligation, but willingly. They do not serve in this manner for dishonest and shameful gain, but eagerly in response to the work of God in their life. They do not dominate over their congregation, acting as a dictator and a sole power. Rather, the shepherds of God’s church are to be examples to the flock, their congregations. In the midst of suffering, pastors in their leadership are to exude humility and honesty. They live in this way because they realize they are not the ultimate authority. The one who is is the One who is coming again. That is why Peter continues, “And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (5:4). Elders and pastors are but stewards in watching over their congregations. There is but one chief Shepherd and that is Jesus Christ. If human church leadership is faithful to the task they have been given and to the people they have been entrusted with, then they will receive their reward when the chief Shepherd returns to gather all His people. Until then, may church leaders, particularly elders, be faithful to shepherd God’s people in their congregations humbly and honestly and may church members keep their church leaders in prayer over this responsibility of shepherding in the midst of suffering.

Reflection Questions:

  • Why is it important to remember as Christians we live, and suffer, as the body of Christ and not merely as individuals?
  • For elders in the church, how can you be more intentional in leading and serving humbly and honestly? For church members, how can you be praying for your pastor as he shepherds the people God has entrusted him with to oversee?

Entrusting in Suffering (1 Peter 4:12-19)

2016-Week 31“Why?” It is a question we ask not when things are going well but when things are not working in our favor. We ask the question when we feel we are dealing with something we do not deserve. One example of this is the trials of life. When people face hardships, the immediate response is not usually positive. What about when somebody faces suffering for unjust reasons, specifically because they are a Christian? They may find themselves questioning why they are receiving this distress. They may be surprised by it. However, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are not. The Apostle Peter echoes the words of his Master when he says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (4:12). In other words, Christians should expect suffering and they should expect suffering as a Christian (4:16). Not only should Christians expect suffering, they should rejoice in the midst of their suffering. Such rejoicing does not mean we rejoice for suffering’s sake. Rather, we rejoice because this type of suffering will give us the opportunity to share in Christ’s sufferings (4:13). We will grow in our Christlikeness, will draw closer in our fellowship with Christ, and God will be glorified. As ones who rejoice in suffering for the cause of Christ, we are blessed when we are insulted for the name of Christ (4:14). We preach the message of God’s grace and the hope of the gospel but not everybody wants to hear that. So, they will insult and ridicule. The response of the Christian is not to speak words of condemnation back nor to seek revenge. The response of the Christian is to glorify God and to entrust themselves to Him (4:16, 19). God is the One who is sovereign and He will work all things out for His purposes (4:17-18). With that knowledge of God, the Christian can trust in the Lord. They can suffer as “those who suffer according to God’s will”. How do they suffer according to God’s will? By entrusting their souls to a faithful Creator and God while they themselves go about doing good. They entrust themselves to God because they realize God has entrusted them with their very lives. Christians understand they are stewards of what God has entrusted to them. That is why they entrust themselves to God in suffering. That is why they do good in the midst of suffering. Instead of staying in the posture of asking questions, may we pay attention to Peter’s words and remember that Jesus Christ died for our sins so that we may have life in Christ. When we repent of our sins and believe in Jesus, we realize we are not our own. We realize God owns us, grows us, and shows us how to be Christlike. This happens supremely through suffering (2:18-25). So rejoice in the fact suffering allows you to share in Christ’s suffering, understanding you will be blessed if you are insulted for the name of Christ, all as you entrust your life to God in the midst of suffering.

Reflection Questions:

  • How does understanding the purpose of our suffering (to glorify God and share in Christ’s sufferings) help us rejoice in such difficult circumstances?
  • How do you typically respond when you are insulted for your Christian faith? How does Scripture say we should respond?
  • How can you be entrusting yourself to God with hardships you are facing right now?

Preparing for the End (1 Peter 4:7-11)

2016-Week 30July 29, 2016 marks yet another prediction of the end of the world. This time End Times Prophecies declared that the world would come to an end on July 29 because of a chain of events caused by a “polar flip” phenomenon. This is not the first, and will certainly will not be the last, time such a prediction has been made. The Bible is clear that no one knows when the world will end and when Christ will return (Matthew 24:36). For those who affirm this biblical truth, they still can lose the biblical perspective. When it comes to speaking about the end times, Christians can tend to ensue a debate and pastors can get bogged down in the details, focusing their teaching on the order of events. The return of Christ is not meant to fire up debates on various views and it is not meant for us to figure out every single detail. Our role as Christians as we await the return of Jesus Christ is anticipation and expectation. In other words, we must be ready. We live in the midst of a fallen and sinful world. We see and face ridicule and suffering for our faith in and commitment to Jesus Christ. Why the context in which we live in the call to be ready? Because it is the context of facing suffering in a fallen world that Apostle Peter calls for how believers prepare for the end, because “the end of all things is at hand” (4:7a). Instead of  entering into debates and dissecting the details, Peter tells us to “be self-controlled and sober-minded” (4:7b). The end is not a time for us to lose our control or lose perspective. Because we have the Holy Spirit as we are in Christ, we are to live differently. We are to be self-controlled because we know God is in control. We can be sober-minded because the Bible tells us where our hope in the future lies. Preparing for the end means thinking biblically, but it also means living biblically. When we hear about the end, our response should not be for our own survival. Our response should be toward others. We should continue to live out the call of a disciple, to love one another (4:8). We should be hospitable, opening up our lives to be a witness even in the context of suffering (3:15; 4:9). We live this way with the end in mind because we realize our life is not our own. We are stewards of what God has entrusted us. He has given gifts to the body of Christ. The purpose of those gifts is not to hoard them but to share them through service. Therefore, we are exhorted, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (4:10). If someone is gifted in teaching, then may they use that for the good of their church and for the glory of God. For the person who serves, may the serve with the reminder they can do so because of the strength God has given them. We do not prepare for the end by arguing or by making prediction. We prepare for the end by living in a manner that is God-glorifying and others-oriented. We live as stewards.

Reflection Questions:

  • Why is it important to understand the application of eschatology (‘the study of the end’)? How should that affect our conversations with others?
  • How can you be a good and faithful steward of God’s grace in your life and ministry?

Victory over Suffering (1 Peter 3:18-4:6)

2016-Week 29Last week we looked at how we can honor Christ in our suffering. We can be a witness by responding to suffering in a way unlike the world. The problem, however, is we typically follow the line of the world. When dealing with suffering, our response is not usually, “I can use this hardship in my life to point someone toward my hope in Christ.” Rather, our response goes something like this: “Why is this happening to me? God, why would you send this trouble my way?” It is not that Scripture does not speak to the realities of the Christian life. In this very book, 1 Peter, time and time again the subject of suffering has been brought up. I believe part of the reason we respond as the world does is because we have lost sight of the hope we have as Christians. A trial comes our way and we feel defeated. Yet, the gospel reminds us our hope is not a false hope. Our hope is a living hope. This is all because of Jesus Christ because He “suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (3:18). We can have victory over our suffering because Christ had victory over death. In order to have this victory, we must respond accordingly. Those in Noah’s day heard the proclamation of Christ through Noah but they refused to obey and only Noah’s family, who trusted the Lord, were saved (3:19–20). So it is with baptism. Those who respond in repenting of their sins and placing their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will be saved and will be baptized as an act of obedience that represents an inward change. The basis on such an act is the resurrection of Jesus Christ (3:21). Now, as those who have confessed their sins and trusted in Christ, the call is to respond in a distinct way. They do not live in sin as they once did nor do they live for their human passions. Instead, they live for the will of God (4:2). If believers live out their suffering this way, unbelievers will take notice and be surprised you are not giving in to the sin they are enjoying (4:3-4). By no means does this mean they will praise you for it. No, they may very well mock you. In such an instance, take heed the words of Jesus, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Everyone will have to give account to God of their lives. Those who mock you and reject God will face the eternal wrath of God for their rebellion and sin. Those who heard the gospel preached and died without trusting in Christ face this judgment and death while believers who have died physically will live in the spirit and spend eternity with Christ. Simply put, the only victory over suffering one can have is through Jesus Christ. He is the one who lived a sinless life, died on the cross as a substitute for sinners, the righteous dying for the unrighteous, and rising again to give us the hope of salvation. Without Christ, there is no hope in suffering and no victory over suffering. With Christ, there is hope and honor in suffering because Christ has given victory over suffering. The question remains: Will you trust in Christ, who rose victorious over suffering for our sins, before it is too late?

Reflection Questions:

  • How does understanding the sacrifice of Christ, the righteous, for us sinners, the unrighteous, alter our typical response to suffering?
  • What is the importance and cost of responding to God according to His Word, namely by repentance of sins and faith in Christ?

Honoring in Suffering (1 Peter 3:13-17)

2016-Week 27One of the areas I am always looking to grow in is my witness for the Lord. I know I need to be intentional in sharing the gospel with those who need to hear it. I pray for God to give me opportunities to share my faith. I speculate I am not the only who is like this. However, I do wonder how many of us consider the question, “How do we respond to suffering?” when it comes to our witnessing and evangelism. The reality is we should be considering how our suffering can be a witness and a tool to show others Christ. When we do that, we honor Christ. But how do we honor Christ, especially in the midst of our suffering? It begins by identifying the reason why we might be suffering and then by observing our response to the suffering. In other words, the suffering described here is not just any type of suffering. Suffering for one’s own sin is not honorable to Christ; it is a consequence for our rebellion against Him. Rather, the suffering that does honor Christ is the suffering the Apostle Peter describes, “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed” (3:13–14a). Suffering while doing good for righteousness’ sake is what honors God. As we saw in the previous section, 1 Peter 3:8-12, it is living rightly even when we are wronged. So, the first step for honoring in suffering is to make sure the reason for our suffering is not because of our sin but because of our doing good for the glory of God. We must not stop at only identifying the reason for our suffering, though. We need to observe our response to the suffering we endure. The temptation here is to be fearful toward those who are causing this pain and suffering. Moreover, we may be tempted to look at God and begin to waver on trusting His goodness. As those in Christ, there is a more honorable way. Peter continues, “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (3:14b–15a). The response to suffering that opens up the door for sharing the gospel and pointing people toward hope in God is the response that does not fear man but honors and trusts in God. We can respond this way because Jesus Christ suffered and died for our sins and, as we repent of our sins and trust in Him as our Savior and Lord, we receive the Holy Spirit. Knowing the Lord is using this suffering for our good by growing us in holiness, we can respond, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in counter-cultural way that will turn heads. A peculiar response will cause unbelievers to ask why it is that someone who professes to be a Christian is not seeking revenge or fretting about the suffering. Simply put, use your suffering to share your faith. Seek to honor God in your suffering. When God does give those opportunities to answer such a question, do it in a way that is gentle and respectful (3:15b). Even if unbelievers see and hear you but still choose to mock and persecute you, you can be sure an honorable response on your end will result in their own shame (3:16). The truth of this point is summed up well in 1 Peter 3:17, “For it is better to suffering for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” Do good for the glory of God, even if it means you will suffer. Because to suffer while doing good, if it is God’s will, is what honors God.

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you typically respond to suffering in your life? What does this show unbelievers about your trust in Christ?
  • How can we use our suffering as a means and a tool to sharing the hope of the gospel?

Right Living When Wronged (1 Peter 3:8-12)

2016-Week 25In the movie The Dark Knight, Harvey Dent turned Two-Face says, “The world is cruel, and the only morality in a cruel world is chance…Fifty-fifty.” Harvey Dent’s analysis seems to be fifty-fifty too, partly right and partly wrong. The reality is we do live in a cruel, fallen world. However, we would be in error if we believe morality in a cruel, sin-laden world is chance. In fact, the gospel shows us otherwise. According to the foreknowledge of the Father, Jesus Christ was sent to live a perfect life, to die a sinner’s death on the cross as a substitute for our sins, and rise again to bring us salvation. If chance is the only morality in a cruel world, there is no hope. If the power of God in the gospel gives us morality in the midst of a fallen world, then we can rejoice in a hope. Because of what God has done in the past in Christ, we live differently in the present with anticipation for the future. That is why we live honorable lives as Christians, even in the midst of a hostile culture. This means we do not grow heart-hardened at the people around us. If there is a time for the body of Christ to come together, the circumstances of these times are it. The Apostle Peter exhorts the early Christian believers this ways, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (3:8). Don’t grow cold during dark and cruel times. Keep warm by showing love and compassion to your brothers and sisters in Christ, not focusing on yourself but living as the body of Christ in unity and by humility. Moreover, when you are wronged, live right. Maybe during times of suffering for the faith, the body of Christ finds itself more willing to come together. But how do they respond to the evil they face? As God speaks through Peter, “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (3:9). The answer to a cruel world is not chance. The answer to a cruel world is not more cruelty. The answer to a cruel world is blessing. This blessing is seen most compellingly in the gospel. Romans 5:8 sums it up nicely, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” As sinners, we had and do rebel against God, speaking evil of His name. Yet, what did God do? He came to save us. The enemies who spoke evil of Him were the Ones He came to save. So, you may ask, “How can we bless while we are facing evil?” We can do so by looking to the gospel and realizing what happened in the person and work of Jesus Christ. King David realized this truth and the results of blessing. What is laid out in 1 Peter 3:10-12 is a quote from Psalm 34:12-16. The truth is that to love life and to see good days does not mean trouble does not come. It means that our response will be different the troubles do come. The one who keeps from speaking the same evil, who keeps from falling into deception is the one who will be blessed. The one who turns from evil and does good is the one who lives honorably. The one who seeks and pursues peace is the one who will find a blessing. The Lord is pleased when He sees His children living right while being wronged by the world around them. Those who do evil will have their day. God will pour out His wrath to those who do not trust in Him. But for those who trust in Christ, our witness is right living when wronged.

Reflection Questions:

  • When you face times of suffering and difficulties, are you more prone to isolate yourself from the body of Christ or to lean on the body of Christ? What does God’s Word say about that?
  • How does reflecting and meditating on the gospel impact the manner in which you respond to evil coming against you?

Missional Marriage (1 Peter 3:1-7)

2016-Week 24Wise and good counsel has said, “The problem is not singleness and the solution is not marriage. Rather, the problem is you have sinned and the solution is for you to receive Christ as Savior.” In 1 Peter, we have seen the reality of suffering in life, and in particular, the Christian life. In responding to suffering, we must live honorable lives among unbelievers so that our witness may result in them glorifying God (2:12). This means we honor by submitting to those in governmental authority (2:13-17). This means we submit to those who are in authority even when we suffer unjustly, Christ leading the way as the example (2:18-25). Our witness does not stop with governmental and work authority nor does it stop with our public life. Our honorable conduct must extend to the most personal and intimate aspect of life: marriage. Peter’s use of “likewise” reveals an extended discussion on how we living honorably as witnesses for Him. As before, Peter calls for submission. This time it is a call for wives to be subject to their own husbands. Submission, unfortunately, has come to be known as the forbidden “S” word in many circles. Feminism and egalitarianism scoff at the concept of submission in marriage, arguing man and woman are equal. While it is true man and woman are equal in dignity, for both have been made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28), it does not mean they have not been given distinct roles. Men have been called by God to be leaders in the home and wives have been called to help support their husbands in their leadership responsibility. But what about women that find themselves married to unbelieving husbands? While Scripture has more to say about that, the focus on Peter’s counsel is sufficient for our purposes: “even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives” (3:1). Honorable conduct in a wife will signify to her husband that something is up. The way she responds to matters says something about her. The godly character of a woman will be what opens the eyes of her husband. It will not be the external adorning and beauty of the woman that ultimately captures the man’s heart for God but her inward beauty. The beauty of the heart, submitting to her husband even in the midst of suffering is what is precious in God’s sight. How can you tell a woman is godly and puts her hope in God? You can find such a woman by observing a wife who is submissive to her husband, even as Sarah was submissive to Abraham (3:6). To be sure, the man does not get off easy. The reception of a husband’s prayer is tired with how he treats his wife. As the leader in the marriage, he is to live with his wife in an understanding way. He is not be domineering as the leader but should be loving and caring. He should seek to honor her just as she honors him. If he does not, his prayers will indeed be hindered. In other words, a husband’s relationship with his wife will have an impact and will reveal his relationship with the Lord. In turn, it will have an impact on the unbelieving world. A marriage that is concerned about self-interest and self-power will not be a witness to the world. A marriage where spouses honor each other, live out biblical principles, and lead godly lives will be a marriage that reflects Christ and the Church, that points unbelievers toward something greater, and that glorifies God.

Reflection Questions:

  • Why is a woman’s inward beauty of the heart more influential to a husband than mere external beauty? Why does God delight more in the inward beauty?
  • How does understanding the biblical framework of marriage affect the roles of husband and wife in marriage?
  • How does viewing marriage as a mission for something greater than self-fulfillment transform your perspective on the relationship?

Suffering Like the Savior (1 Peter 2:18-25)

2016-Week 23Whether 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.

Reflection Questions:

  •  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?