GOD CAME NEAR
God Came Near As An Example For Us
1 Peter 2:18-24
Jerry A Collins
vWhat kind of an example did Jesus leave for us?
How does that example help us when we suffer?
Where will following Jesusí example take us?
I really struggle with personal injustices in my life. My struggle is in the area of how I respond to them. From irresponsible accusations toward me to misunderstood comments by me to unfair opinions about me to unreasonable consequences for me, my response to these personal injustices is my greatest challenge. And I bet it is one of your greatest challenge too. Peter thot it might be as well so he writes to us about how to handle these personal injustices we live with all throughout our lives. He begins in verse 18 with a real life example of a modern day work setting where we may encounter personal injustices. The reference is to house slaves having a specific job responsibility. Usually these slaves did hard physical labor. They worked for their masters called despotoi or despots. Like them, a modern day work setting usually includes a number of hours each week of submission to authority. Tho we are not in slavery we do have bosses or employers. It is clear that our responsibility to authority in our relationships, whether bosses, teachers, coaches, parents, government, husbands, is submission.
1. BE IN SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY
To willingly, voluntarily take an attitude of submission, that is to be submissive in our hearts not just our behavior. Make sure it looks the same on the inside as it does on the outside. Give authority your respect. Donít start bucking it, spurning it, competing against it.
2. STAY IN SUBMISSION TO UNREASONABLE AUTHORITY
Submission is not only required under favorable conditions but in painful, unpleasant and unjust ones too. Christian servants are not only to submit to good and gentle masters but also to unreasonable ones. Unreasonable is from the word scoliosis meaning crooked or bent used for the disease of a distorted spine. This unreasonable authority in your life may be unethical, dishonest like Laban who made promises he did not keep. They may be unfair in their accusations, punishments, or rewards. They may be overbearing, cruel or even perverse. Do we have to take that? God says stay in submission to them.
3. THIS KIND OF SUBMISSION PLEASES GOD 19-20
There are those times when we bring suffering into our lives because we did wrong. Peter says no credit accrues with God for enduring punishment for doing wrong. We deserved that! It is undeserved suffering that brings Godís favor. Twice he says that here. There are 3 qualifications for suffering which has Godís favor:
(1) Suffering for doing what is right. As we determine to walk in faith in Godís promises to us we often end up misunderstood by the world around us. By faith we respond to what God wants for us. Godís promises to us come from His revelation and because these promises originate in Revelation from god, they tend to provoke the animosity of the world. The wisdom of God appears foolish to the world. Unfortunately, it often appears foolish to Christians influenced by the world. Since Godís promises come from His wisdom, they can never find the affirmation of the world with itís own. Suffering associated with living out Godís wisdom receives Godís favor.
(2) Suffering endured with patience. Many of us may be capable of enduring personal injustice for a short period of time but we are called to bear up under unjust suffering for as long as it lasts. What do we often want to do? We want to complain, we want to make demands or even sinfully compromise to get out. God says patiently enduring it is what please him.
(3) Suffering patiently endured for conscience sake. Endure undeserved suffering with a clean conscience before God. Aware of Godís presence and aware of His word you will have to make decisions as a matter of conscience while you are unjustly suffering. Daniel, while a slave in Babylon, in good conscience was willing to submit to his captors. Willing to be educated by them, he was not willing to eat meat from the kings table. Neither was he willing to cease praying to His god. One decision was made while suffering unjustly and the other produced more but both were made with a clean conscience before God. So there will be times when our response to personal injustice may be dictated by our conscience rather than a specific command given to us in Godís Word. Applying this to employees:
(1) Treat employers with respect.
(2) Treat bad ones same as good.
(3) Suffer injustice in workplace.
(4) Work for God.
4. GOD CAME NEAR TO SHOW US HOW TO SUFFER INJUSTICE
Why should the Christian servant have to suffer at all? Arenít we guaranteed the good life now? Because it is our calling vs 21a. We are called to emulate the character and conduct of Jesus Christ because He suffered for us. If Jesus life and ministry were not free of suffering why do we believe ours should be? It is not heaven yet. Instead while we are still here, Jesus is the one we ought to copy. The word example can be used of the computer term, template, the pattern that we are to look at carefully and have reproduced in our lives. What does this template look like? Peter uses Isaiah 53 to give us several references to Christís example.
(1) Innocent of the charges against him vs 22. Unfairly accused he did not deserve his arrest, trial, beating, humiliation or execution. He was blameless.
(2) He was completely honest 22. He never lied, shaded the truth, compromised himself. He did not teach us the value of fudging a little even to protect or defend ourselves.
(3) He did not go ballistic defending himself 23. He did not argue abrasively or complain or try to justify himself.
(4) Did not threaten retaliation 23. He did not lash our in irritation or threat like when I come back man are you going to get it.
(5) Left judgment to God 23. His hope was in His Father who judges justly. Did not take matters into His own hands.
(6) His suffering was in our bests interests 24-25. It was redemptive suffering. His suffering saved us. Wayward, lost, stupid sheep he volunteered to suffer for us. Love is giving to another to serve their greater good. Because Christ suffered innocently for us, we are now called to suffer injustice innocently for Him. This brings Godís favor. He came near for this!