Suffering With Purpose

Message:  I Peter 3 is a continuation of the call to submission we read yesterday. Chapter 2 began with a command to submit to government authorities and local leaders, then slaves submitting to masters, and now in chapter 3 he called wives to submit to husbands. In between each of these commands he acknowledged that we are submitting to flawed humans and in some cases even unkind or cruel masters. Peter pointed out the purpose in all of it and reminded us of the importance of living as free people even when we are suffering under harsh or unfair circumstances. Our freedom and righteous living during these difficult and unfair circumstances will convict hearts and God will reward those who press through oppressive situations knowing that we are honoring God and that ultimately, he is our rewarder. Man can never make right the injustices of man so in just that respect it makes more sense that God would right the wrong. This is a tough pill to swallow if our eyes are focused on human social justice. We want the guilty to pay and we want it now. As I was thinking about this yesterday, I was quickly reminded that we want justice when we are unfairly treated, but justice is not one-sided. It requires something out of us that we can’t pay. Nobody comes out of this clean. Our salvation is based solely on the fact that we couldn’t pay for the injustices we caused but the only one in the world who has ever been perfect paid for ours by suffering injustly. To be in Christ is to suffer like Christ. Verse 17 reminds us that we are going to suffer regardless, but it’s better to suffer injustly while doing good, than to suffer the consequences of doing wrong because we will eventually be rewarded for persevering through the unjust suffering. Our suffering due to our own wrongdoing brings us no reward. Not only are we rewarded for suffering well, but our patience and obedience to God through suffering is a testimony and a witness to those around us and even to those who oppress us. The most important point that I keep taking from this is that in order to suffer well in this we have to have the mindset that we are not victims. When Jesus was crucified he said that nobody was taking his life, he was laying it down. Even Pontius Pilate told him “don’t you know I have the power to kill you or let you live?” From the outside if appeared that Jesus was under the power of humans, but we know that at any time he could have obliterated them all if he chose to. He submitted to the suffering of death by the hands of humans who thought they were in power in order to accomplish something far more powerful. If we can grasp this concept, we can endure anything. We are not suffering powerlessly under the hands of men. We are submitting to it knowing that God is our ultimate authority and he is who we are answering to. We are suffering for a purpose and this changes everything!

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