“But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”1 Peter 2:20-21 NIV
We would really have liked it if our lives had become easier when we started to follow Jesus. Church history shows that the Gospel usually reached the marginalised people in society first: the slaves, the poor and the sick. These people did not have any influence to change society, yet …. In verse 18, Peter, like Paul in Ephesians 6:5-8, implores servants, or slaves, to submit to their masters. They had to do their duty to the best of their ability in order to honour God. It must have been one of the worst possible positions to be in – being a slave without any freedom. Even in such circumstances, Christians should consider the way they are living, and do everything to honour God. This is our testimony in the world, even the way we suffer to glorify God. This touches hearts, and in the long run, the attitude of Christian slaves changed the world.
Our example for enduring faithfully in dark times is our Lord Jesus. He suffered for us. The next verses of 1 Peter 2 reveal that he never sinned and never lied – in verse 22. He was insulted but never retaliated, states verse 23. He left judgement in the Father’s hands. He has set us such a difficult example to follow. He commanded that we should love our enemies (Matthew 5:44) and learn to turn the other cheek when someone hits us (Matthew 5:39).
When we want to take revenge, and repay evil with evil, the darkness in the world increases. But when we follow Christ, treating the people around us with self-sacrificing love like him, then the kingdom of God becomes visible. This is what Jesus meant when he said that we should follow the narrow path, and take up our own cross to follow him.
Verse 24 tells us that Jesus came to heal our wounds. In this way, he set us free to be obedient to the commands of God. Before we knew him, we were like lost sheep. Now we have found our Shepherd, the Overseer of our souls. When we follow him, our way of forgiving, loving and serving can change the world for the better. His light then reflects on us, and lights up the world to his glory.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are my Shepherd. I want to follow in your footsteps. This command is hard for me. I still cling to my own rights. Teach me to trust you and to forgive, love, and serve like you. May the world see you in me! Amen.