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Called to Suffer

We are not to be surprised by suffering but expectant of it and prepared for it.

“But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.” (1 Peter 2:20, NKJV) 

“For to this you were called.” That’s how Peter begins verse 21 as he lifts our eyes to our Lord Jesus. What is the “this?” Clearly, it is suffering unjustly, suffering for righteousness’ sake. We are not to be surprised by suffering but expectant of it and prepared for it. 

Peter couches suffering in terms of our calling. It is part and parcel of denying ourselves and taking up our cross to follow Jesus as His disciples. Jesus is our model. “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21). 

Jesus is the epitome of suffering unjustly. He neither acted with sin nor reacted in sin. Peter tells us: He “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten” (1 Pet. 2:22-23). 

What do we do when we are provoked, particularly when we know we are in the right? Often, we will lash out. But no one had the higher moral ground more than Jesus, yet He did not respond in kind. 

What did Jesus do when unjustly provoked? Peter tells us that He “committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Pet. 2:23). We see our attitude and approach to life in the example of Jesus laid out by the apostle Paul in Philippians 2. There Jesus humbled Himself even to the point of ultimate suffering and in so doing was bestowed honor by God. Paul lays out this principle for us in Romans: “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). 

Jesus is more than our example, as Peter will explain to us in a moment, but He is not less. We are to walk in His steps. Following Him includes becoming like Him, in obedience to the Father. It means, as Peter will say later, entrusting ourselves to our faithful God and enduring in righteousness that seeks first the Kingdom of God. 

REFLECTION: We are not to live as reactionaries but luminaries of Kingdom glory and grace.   

Unless noted otherwise, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and ten grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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