Summary: A talk on how Christians should view the calling of suffering; looking, in patience, to Christ.
Text: 1 Peter 2:18-25, Title: Called to Suffer, Date/Place: NRBC, 3/25/12, PM
Opening illustration: As parents we are all called to a special time of suffering for the whole family called potty training. Therefore with a baby on the way, and much discouraging news from older parents of toddlers, and more tips than we know what to do with, we begin. We arrange all the events to clear aside all activities for the day, use the doll, give her lots to drink, watch the video, demonstrate for her, read the book about it, bribe her, encourage her, teach her, train her, and ask the question of the day: “Do you need to go pee-pee in the potty?” about a million times, then try to act surprised and aghast that she peed in the floor, again. Frustration mounts, bladders fill, distractions flood the mind of a busy Mackenzie, who probably all the while wonders “what is the big deal with the potty all of a sudden.” Really, you got to wonder what they are thinking.
Background to passage: Specifically in this passage, Peter is dealing with submission of slaves to masters, or in our case, employees to employers. But he assumes here that this relationship would bring about hardship at least at some level (explain the differences in slavery then vs. in 19th century America.) Therefore what we find in our passage is a instruction on how to suffer well. So, while the immediate application goes toward vocation, the general principles apply to any circumstance in which we are suffering unjustly. And as far as general application toward work and our attitude toward it, here is the nutshell version: 1) view your labor as a calling from God, 2) as a Christian you should be the best worker on the job, 3) you should be the best boss that one has ever worked for, 4) and your work should reflect and honor the Lord in every way.
Main thought: So, Peter is going to answer the question: If we are called to suffer, how do we suffer well?
Exhibit patience (trust) (v. 19-20)
Peter’s first instruction is that we suffer patiently. The word means to bear up under something or support something from underneath; then to remain under it quietly, confidently, awaiting deliverance. And we are not talking about acts of nature, or well-deserved consequences of our actions. We are talking about unjust, or literally unrighteous treatment—not getting what you deserve, getting jipped, ripped off, stabbed in the back, betrayed, sabotaged by people Peter calls crooked, meaning perverse and malicious. One of the things Peter says to do is to maintain God on your conscience.
Isa 43:2, Eph 1:3, Ps 37:3-5, Prov 3:5-6, James 1:12
Illustration: Driving through Texas, a New Yorker collided with a truck carrying a horse. A few months later he tried to collect damages for his injuries. “How can you now claim to have all these injuries?” asked the insurance company’s lawyer. “According to the police report, at the time you said you were not hurt.” “Look,” replied the New Yorker. “I was lying on the road in a lot of pain, and I heard someone say the horse had a broken leg. The next thing I know this Texas Ranger pulls out his gun and shoots the horse. Then he turns to me and asks, ‘Are you okay?’” In 1962, Victor and Mildred Goertzel published a revealing study of 413 “famous and exceptionally gifted people” called Cradles of Eminence. They spent years attempting to understand what produced such greatness, what common thread might run through all of these outstanding people’s lives. Surprisingly, the most outstanding fact was that virtually all of them, 392, had to overcome very difficult obstacles in order to become who they were
As Christians whose rights have been violated by bosses, spouses, governments, or anyone, we are supposed to submit unto the God-ordained authority structure and bear up under it patiently. How could God ask us to restrain our feelings, withhold our anger, overlook our rights, and hold our tongues while evil people take advantage of our situation or us? Because He is God! He has purchased us. We are not our own. And He is in absolute control of every situation, circumstance, crisis, as well as good and evil men; furthermore He is bringing them into His plan and accomplishing His design, whether we understand it or not. Remember that he is the one who provides, protects, strengthens, and supports us. Or do we act like we have to fix our own situations? When we have been wronged, we turn the other cheek, go the second mile, give the shirt as well as the coat, and do it patiently. What if I am all out of patience? Ask God for His patience. Practice a continual meditation on God. During suffering is a good time to take stock in yourself.