Summary: Living on Mission in a Foreign Land Principles and Patterns of Submission: Following the Example of Christ
Living on Mission in a Foreign Land
Principles and Patterns of Submission: Following the Example of Christ
We are in our second mini-series in 1 Peter, “Living on Mission in a Foreign Land,” from 1 Peter 2.11-4.11, where Peter demonstrates that the way we live our lives is connected to the mission of God, making disciples. That is, our actions and our words are to point those who do not know Christ to the work of grace in our lives. Though we are foreigners in a foreign land, we have a mission in this foreign land. We are a people who have been called out of darkness and into his marvelous light to proclaim His excellencies. In chapter 2 Peter outlines for us “Principles and Patterns of Submission.” We have been looking at submitting to those in authority over us.
Big Idea – We display the power of God's grace when we follow the example of Christ, endure suffering for doing the right thing, unjust suffering.
Passage Overview: Peter goes from from telling us there is grace to endure suffering for doing the right thing to giving the reason for enduring suffering for doing the right thing - following the example of Christ who endured unjust suffering.
We Can Endure Suffering for Doing the Right Thing because:
God's Call Promises the Power to do so
The New Testament uses this word, call, in a couple of ways. There is an external call or general call to all people when the gospel is preached that calls men and women to repent of their sins and believe. But there is also different, internal call in which God calls and draws people to himself so that the gospel brings about the intended response it asks for in peoples hearts. This is the way call is used here. Peter is saying it was God's internal call that brought about your repentance and faith. It is comparable to God's word calling forth creation and is why Paul uses creation language to describe conversion. So when Peter says, to this you are called – meaning we are called to endure suffering for doing the right thing, unjust suffering, he means that the same call that was effective to bring forth repentance and faith is also effective to produce the ability to endure unjust suffering, or perseverance. What he calls us to he also provides the grace to do it. But God does not call us to suffer for the sake of suffering. He called us to unjust suffering because there is always a larger, beneficial, purpose in suffering. Some of us fear suffering because we think our faith is threatened by suffering. But the Bible says that faith actually endures or lasts because of suffering. Suffering is a tool in God's tool belt to produce enduring or persevering faith. God is present in suffering with grace sustaining and strengthening faith. Grace is God's empowering presence in your life. You do not save yourself, nor do you keep yourself; God does.
Christ's own Suffering Provides an Example for us
The next reason we can endure unjust suffering is because Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example so that we might follow in his steps. That word, example, was used of school children tracing the letters of the alphabet to learn to write correctly. They were given a pattern of the letters of the alphabet to be used as a template in which to trace it out the letters. Christ is our example in enduring unjust suffering but he is also our guide, we are to follow in his footsteps. A follower of Christ, a disciple, is one who knows and follows Christ. Following Christ is not identifying with a belief system or even a cultural identity. It is because of your belief system that you follow his teaching and seek to become like him.
Christ suffered unjustly for you. Christ's suffering guaranteed the example; without his suffering there would be no salvation; no grace; no example. His suffering included both his life and his death. He suffered in life, becoming a man, enduring lifelong humiliation of fallen humanity, subjected to suffering at the hands of those he created. Peter gives us three characteristics of His suffering. First, Christ did not sin when he suffered unjustly (22). He suffered an unjust trial, unjust imprisonment, unjust beatings, and unjust death. The beauty of it all is that the innocent Son of God died in the greatest display of injustice the world has ever known paved the way for God being just in justifying us.
Second, Christ did not retaliate against his unjust suffering (23). The perfect and sinless Son of God, was acutely aware of his own moral perfection and of the evil of the proceedings against him yet did not retaliate. When they mocked him, he did not retaliate. When they hurled insults at him he did not retaliate. When they beat him he did not retaliate. When they crucified him he did not retaliate. When they killed him he did not retaliate. Third, Christ not only passively endured suffering but he also entrusted himself and his circumstances to Him who judges justly. The reason Christ did not sin in any way when he suffered unjustly was because he was trusting His Father. Christ trusted God to vindicate him and judge his enemies. If we trust that God judges all people without exception then we can trust ourselves to him to vindicate us in the end and pour out his vengeance upon those who have wronged us. Christ called us to endure unjust suffering; he is our example and our guide.