Righteous Suffering

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1 Peter 3:8-18

The Christian life comes with a good dose of suffering. We are a people seeking God’s glory in a world that is hostile to him. Whether overt or subtle, the believer feels the world’s opposition. A look, a remark, an attack – it comes in various forms. And it can be discouraging. Hence the apostle’s solemn warning and counsel.

We are not to repay evil for evil. From the persecutions under the Roman state in the early church to violent killings of Christians in our own day, believers have had to deal with evil. And when the government turns a deaf ear to these atrocities or the government itself stands as the persecutor, we can truly feel helpless.

But Peter reminds us that God does not turn a blind eye:

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.” (v. 12)

Instead of revenge, he exhorts us to repay with kindness. This is hard, but we can take a cue from Christ himself:

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” (v. 18)

Though he was unjustly humiliated, Jesus had nothing but kindness for his oppressors. He even called on God to forgive them!

And as we face this opposition, we should embrace the opportunity to share the gospel with them. It might be a classmate, a colleague at work, or even a neighbour. Explain to them why you have a different take on life, why you simply see things differently. Tell them why you still love those who are so hostile to you.

And don’t be surprised: God does makes the oppressed an evangelist to the oppressor. You are simply following in the steps of the one who suffered to save his enemies.

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