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The Struggle – 1 Peter 2:13-4:19
The first few sections of 1 Peter are great. Yay – we have Jesus! Yay – we can be holy! Yay – we are in this together to declare God’s glory! And then Peter decides to take a bit of a turn. From the end of chapter 2 to the end of chapter 4, Peter addresses a lot of the things that the dreamers and positivity squad like to avoid: submission, suffering, the unrighteous, oh wait more suffering, did we say suffering already? What a pick-me-up!
If you’re like me, you would prefer to avoid having conversations about the more unpleasant things in life. You’d rather look at sunshine and rainbows, celebrate the beauties and joys of life! But the reality is that a part of life really is a struggle. And it is important for us to realize that this struggle is one that no one is immune to. In fact, it is one that is usually experienced more by the marginalized and oppressed in our society.
We are in a time that our society is taking a long, hard look at the struggle Peter outlines in scripture. We see the protests, we read the battles on social media, we experience the rift expanding between people and even within our own church. All of us are faced with the question of do we enter into the fray or do we withdraw into self-preservation?
We can justify our decisions by placing the blame on others. “Well if they weren’t so [fill in the blank here], then this wouldn’t be a problem.” “The only reason this is a problem is because THEY did this…” “It wasn’t a problem before, why is it a problem now?”
But the instructions in 1 Peter are not focused on the behavior of others. They are focused on OUR behavior. OUR attitudes. OUR choices. We will never be able to control the acts and attitudes of others, but we CAN control the acts and attitudes of ourselves. Our job is to ensure that they align with the heart and love of Jesus. Our job is to ensure that we are promoting the values of the Kingdom of God and treating all people as beautiful, creations of God who have been made in His image.
So instead of pointing fingers at others, we start by pointing the finger at ourselves. Have we reflected Jesus in our treatment of others? Have we led with love and surrendered any selfish desire for the sake of others? Have we promoted the justice of God in a way that builds the Kingdom of God?
Many times, we find that we ourselves are the oppressors. Whether conscious or not, we have a tendency to focus on ourselves and forget to see others. Consequently, some of our attitudes and actions cause others to be put down or forgotten. But that’s not who we are called to be.
We are called to be like Jesus. We are called to lay down our lives for the sake of others, to think of them first, to honor them first. We are called to demand that the justice of God prevails. We are called to endure the struggle as it pertains to ourselves, but persist in fighting against the struggle as it tears down and destroys others. That’s what Jesus did. He laid down his life and endured the suffering, to the end that we would be lifted up and restored.
Let’s be more like Jesus. Time to Reflect:
Have you experienced suffering as a result of your faith?
How are you posturing yourself to hear the suffering of others? How are you seeking to help others?
Are you more likely to look at your faults or the faults of others? Why?