November 24 - The Call to Suffering
Peter continues on the calling of believers -- the call to suffering. Very few of us think in such terms, seeing suffering as an unavoidable evil but not a part of our calling from the Lord. It is even a privilege, that we may follow the footsteps of Jesus and His example of suffering. Like Jesus, we are in spiritual warfare fighting the enemy of our souls. Suffering is a way of attack from the enemy, aiming at our downfall. Believers are fighting battles on two fronts: inside and outside.
The inner conflicts and warfare that we all face is the battle between our spirit and our flesh. The passion of the flesh wages war against our soul. We have to overcome our flesh, our bodily desires, wants and needs. Whenever we are self-centered, we have already lost the battle. Peter urges the exiles and sojourners to abstain from the passion of the flesh, using our will to conform to God’s will instead of what we want. This goes on every day and every moment of our lives. When you are not aware, the self would come out every time and cause you to sin. This is our inner conflict that brings in much discomfort and pain to our lives.
The outside conflict involves others in the world. We live among the Gentiles, those who do not know God. Although our goal is to bring them into the Kingdom of God, however, they do not abide by the same rules as we do. They may speak against us, calling us evildoers. They may also slander us for they do not have Christ in their lives. We have to endure the ignorance of foolish people for they operate apart from the fear of God.
Slaves are to be subject to their masters with all respect, not only to the good masters but also to the unjust. Wives are to subject to their husbands and suffer injustice. When we do that, we are being gracious and mindful of God. Suffering for doing good is precious in God’s sight for we are following Christ’s example. He did not defend Himself but only entrusted Himself to God who judges justly. In so doing, He brought salvation and healing to all.
For this reason we are called to suffer. Such is a gracious thing, or a gift or blessing from God. The more we suffer, the more blessing we are going to receive from God. Refusing suffering, avoiding hardships and preserving the self are all too common among believers. As we reject sufferings, we also reject blessings. Salvation and healing from Jesus only come after His suffering and death. If you have not experienced or tasted His goodness, you might have been avoiding suffering. Thank God for bringing suffering into your life so that you may be blessed. Look at betrayals, slanders and unjust accusations as gifts from the Lord from now on and your life will never be the same.
Ps 129:1-8 Ezek 47:1-48:35 1 Pet 2:11-3:7 Prov 28:12-13