Suffering Well

Message:  In 1 Peter 2 Peter was talking about suffering. Several times in this chapter he refers to the believers as temporary residents to remind them that the kingdoms of earth are not the ones we are hoping in or fighting for. He directs them (and us) to submit to every human authority because of the Lord whether it is the Emperor as supreme authority or the local civil governments. He even goes as far as telling slaves to submit to their masters-not only the gentle ones but also to the cruel ones. He said all of these things, but he told them (and us) to live as free people. It sounds like an oxymoron but in verse 15 he tells us that it is God’s will to silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. He describes us all as God’s slaves living as free people. I had to think about that one for a minute. I don’t believe he was asking us to be victims. He is telling us that if we submit to unfair treatment with the understanding that this world is not the final destiny or authority over us we can suffer well without being crushed in spirit. In verse 19 he tells us that when we endure unjust suffering with our mindset on pleasing God we gain favor with God. Verse 21 tells us that we were actually called to suffer this way because we are following Jesus who never sinned and suffered unjustly. This goes completely against the grain of the American belief system. Americans are all about our rights and will fight literally to the death to protect those rights. Peter is telling us that if we surrender to God he will give us favor when we submit to authorities even if (and especially if) they cause us to suffer. The difference between being a victim and suffering in Christ is that a victim is hopeless and suffers in vain but when we suffer we can accept that our suffering and pain has purpose because we are being obedient to God and we have hope knowing that our sacrifice is pleasing to God and we will be rewarded for it.

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