Called to Suffer
If when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:20b–21)
Today we conclude our study of 1 Peter. Like the book of James, we have seen that this letter has been concerned with instructing us as to how we are to deal with suffering. Unlike James, however, Peter’s words have been less of a prophetic rebuke than a prophetic encouragement to stand firm under trial.
As Christians, we should never be surprised when trials come our way (4:12). All those who have placed their faith in the Messiah have had to endure persecution at the hands of sinful men. Yet those who stand firm in their faith, entrusting themselves to God, are promised one day to be vindicated by the Father. Noah and those who identified with his faith in God were saved from the flood, and, as we know from the rest of Scripture, were saved from eternal destruction. We too are promised salvation and vindication if we are united by faith to Jesus Christ who alone entrusted Himself perfectly to the Father (3:18–22).
We have every reason to persevere and stand firm in our faith. For we have been born again to a living hope of salvation longed for by the prophets and guaranteed by Christ’s resurrection (1:1–12). This living hope has made us into God’s people (2:4–10) and has empowered us to stand firm by living accordingly. As we live lives of holy love (1:13–25), submitting ourselves to all God-ordained authorities, (2:13–18; 3:1–7) we stand firm, making the decisive break with sin that tries to lead us away from the Lord (4:1–11). As we humble ourselves to serve one another and submit to God, the Lord will one day exalt us just as He has already exalted Jesus (5:1–11).
If the Lord of the universe suffered before being exalted, then those who are united to Him by faith will have to suffer as well (2:21–25). But make no mistake, the suffering that is our calling is the suffering that comes for confessing Jesus (4:14–16). Though God can be honored when we acknowledge the justice of the earthly consequences for our sin, let us never endeavor to suffer as evildoers (4:15). Rather, let us follow Christ so that in the trials that result we will fulfill the call to suffer just as He did (2:19–21; 3:8–17; 4:12–19).
Take some time today to read through 1 Peter and consider the call to stand firm for Jesus even when it brings suffering to us. Spend some time in prayer meditating on how willing you are to bear the sufferings of Christ wherever you happen to be. Ask the Lord to strengthen you and establish you that you might be able to endure eagerly and faithfully the difficulties that come with being a Christian. Find a group of believers who can encourage you to stand firm for Christ.
Passages for Further Study
Gen. 39, Phil. 1:29, 1 Peter 1:3–7; 2:19; 3:17; 4:7–11