“For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly.” (1 Peter 2:19)
I have been thinking about my post from yesterday. “Enduring pain while suffering unjustly” refers to the persecution that believers would undergo because of their faith. It was not easy being a Christian in the first century after Christ’s death.
“If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.” (Verse 20)
Remember Saul who would become Paul was going to Damascus to capture Christians, and most likely put them to death according to Jewish law, or at least imprison them. Peter was imprisoned at least once himself. And eventually Paul was imprisoned. Some of our more recent spiritual forebearers also suffered for their faith, and even the news in our current society tells of Christians suffering in a wide spectrum of ways.
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (Verses 21 – 24)
One could (and maybe should) be very exclusive as to what constitutes suffering for one’s faith. Where do you think, beloved reader, the line should be drawn? Does the persecution/oppression have to be directly against one’s faith/beliefs and how one lives out that faith and belief? Is “mere” verbal abuse persecution, or does there need to be a physicality about it? Does the persecutor need to be a non-believer? Or is the discord (and/or worse) between opposing believers sufficient? Ah, you see, when you start to refine and define – it gets tricky, sticky, and messy.
The example of Christ that the writer of I Peter cites to his readers may have us draw back in horror – might that happen in our modern world? It did happen in the apostle Peter’s world, and if I am remembering correctly, it happened to Peter. And as I said above, it has happened (not however death by crucifixion) in our modern world.
I don’t think the writer of I Peter meant to horrify his readers; I think his purpose was to convince his readers, because of Christ’s suffering, we should value being freed from the consequences of our sins.
“For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.” (Verse 25)
I say with great care, and some hesitation (but I will say it anyway), what we are going through with the Novel Coronavirus is not the type of suffering that the writer of I Peter was meaning. This virus potentially affects believer (however you would define that) and non-believer (again, your definition) alike. If we would discern the difference between the two groups, let it be that believers respond to this situation with compassion, care, and patience, observing and obeying the guidelines and legal mandates set down for everyone’s mutual protection. Christ endured much for the sake of the Divine’s purpose in the world. Let us endure also for the sake of the global community! Selah and Shalom!