21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
22 “Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously… (1 Peter 2:21-23)
To "this" we were called.
What is the "this"?
We go back to 1 Peter 2:20…But when you do good and suffer for it, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.
Wow. As a believer in Christ, I was called to a new kind of life and one aspect of it is learning to endure unfair treatment with a gracious response and a tenacious trust in God.
I am not sure I signed up for that!
When are you most upset at traffic, at other people, at life, at God? If you are like me, then it is when you perceive that you are being unfairly treated.
We hate unfair treatment. We have a deep sense of justice (part of the image of God) coupled with a deep sense of selfishness (part of the fall of mankind) and together they can make a potent combination when someone mistreats us.
Let's boil down most of our conflicts in our relationships, most of our bitterness, most of our unforgiveness. Someone has wronged us (whether in actuality or in perception) and we simply cannot get over it. Our neck stiffens, our heart hardens, and our expectations for vindication, vengeance, or a groveling apology can sometimes become obsessive.
This is not the kind of life that God has called us to. Why?
Because Jesus suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.
Jesus died for us. He bore our sins. He is our one and only Savior. That fact is coming in 1 Peter 2:24-25.
But Jesus also suffered for us. Why?
Technically, we only needed a Lamb to die for our sins. In other words, technically, Jesus could have come to earth, lived a perfect life (maybe even for a year or two), and then somehow died for us. The OT animal sacrifice did not particularly suffer. Their throat was slit, their body died, and their blood was sprinkled on the altar. They did not beat, revile, and whip the lamb before they killed it.
But Jesus was beaten, Jesus was whipped, Jesus was reviled, Jesus was mocked, Jesus was spat upon, Jesus was declared a criminal, Jesus was nailed to a cross and suffered anguish as a curse upon the tree.
Jesus suffered for us.
Not to save us from sin…that was accomplished through His death and resurrection.
But to save us from ourselves. To give us an example that we could follow. To be a great and merciful High Priest that we could trust in the midst of suffering. To be a Shepherd that we could follow through the difficult roads of unfair treatment, uncertain outcomes, undesirable circumstances.
We are to follow in His steps.
Not giving in to our selfish nature when we face difficulty.
Not lying or manipulating to get our way in conflict.
Not yelling back in anger when we are verbally attacked.
Not threatening with hatred those we perceive as enemies.
But fully entrusting ourselves into God's hands, yielding to His will, trusting His justice, waiting on His timing, resting in His sovereignty, basking in His love, showing His grace to others.
This is a radical kind of life.
It is not something we can do on our own. It goes against every fiber of our self-focused nature. It requires the filling of the Spirit. It requires a kind of death in order to experience a new kind of life.
But the good news is that our Savior and our Shepherd has gone before us…through the darkness, through the valley, through the suffering. We just have to trust Him and hold His hand as He leads us.
He is the only One who knows the way.