Monday, November 9, 2009

Called to Be Like Jesus – 1 Peter 2:21-23

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (NIV)

This is a continuation of the same thought as my previous blog – suffering for doing right, not wrong. Obviously, Jesus is the prime example of suffering. I took a quick review of Jesus’ “trial” and execution in John 18:19 – 20:30. It doesn’t have all the details but it brings out enough to substantiate what Peter wrote.

I don’t know if I would be able to be as trusting as Jesus was if I were thrown in prison then beaten for my faith. I’m pretty sure I would yell and scream at the beatings. I would make every effort to escape but not by denying to know Jesus. However, I have made up my mind that I would not seek my own revenge – I would not retaliate. I’m sure that if by some chance I had to stand trial or was asked to testify against my persecutors, I would tell the truth and not hold it back in order to appear meek and humble. I don’t think that this is what Jesus would want nor is it what Peter was advocating.

There are many examples in the Gospels where Jesus went head to head with those that wanted to kill Him. Sometimes He answered them with parables as in Matt 21:23-46. Sometimes He answered with Scriptural logic as in John 8:31-59 which ended when Jesus made an unmistakable claim to be God. As a result, His enemies started to stone Him. In that instance, He slipped away before they could harm Him. In Matt 12:24-45 Jesus even called His detractors a brood of vipers and a wicked and adulterous generation. This doesn’t seem to fit the mild, meek Jesus who Peter was describing. He even chased the merchants with evil intent from the temple with a whip. However, He never took up a sword to kill. He never resorted to physical violence to advance His cause or protect Himself or His disciples.

I think that Peter was viewing the situation from the perspective that Jesus described in Matt 10:18-20 “On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (NIV) If I entrust myself to the Lord, then I can be confident that He will give the right words and the right actions when the time comes. If I do not trust Him, then I am very likely to be a bad witness for Jesus. It is very likely that I’ll want my revenge. If I do that, I will bring disgrace to the name of Christians everywhere. History has shown that when people who call themselves Christians (whether they are or not doesn’t matter) do not take these passages to heart then the world eagerly points out their abuse and maligns the good name of Jesus.

There is no guarantee that I will be spared from persecutions. My brothers and sisters in Pakistan are currently facing an increase in persecution as the Taliban and other factions are increasing pressure on Christians. There has been more bloodshed, false imprisonment, and beatings. Matt 24:9-14 "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men's love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come." (RSV) My prayer for them is that they will be able to be a testimony to those who watch and those who persecute. I pray that in that suffering, Jesus may be glorified, the ignorant talk of foolish men may be silenced, and that many will come to know Jesus. I pray that as a result of their hardship, the righteous Judge may find many more who call on the name of Jesus when He comes.

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