“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But 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. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:13–25 ESV)
If the gospel has transformed us internally then it will necessarily transform our social interactions. We are to submit to governmental authorities which promote order & justice. It is interesting that Peter is telling a group of dispersed (and likely persecuted) people this. For as we submit (in attitude in action), God is glorified and the accusations of others become increasingly baseless. We are free people and should live that way – not as a license to sin, but rather as an expression of good for God’s glory. We don’t have the need to make ourselves into something in this world because God has already made us His chosen children; therefore, we are free to trust in God’s goodness and sovereignty. The fuel for living free is tied back to our identity as sojourners in this world.
We are to honor, revere, glorify and respect everyone, even those who persecute us. This honor is to be extended even by slaves to their masters – whether good or harsh. It is a gracious thing to endure suffering while being mindful of God. Enduring harsh treatment is viewed as a credit to the account – a credit that will be redeemed in the life that is to come. God’s grace (which includes His favor and blessing) are what enables & empowers us to suffer graciously. Jesus is the greatest example of suffering – unjust suffering at that! We normally don’t suffer unjustly because we often times bring on our suffering by our own sinfulness. Regardless of the cause of our suffering, Jesus is our example. Jesus endured to redeem us, so too should we endure. When Jesus was reviled & suffered, He did not retaliate. Instead He entrusted that God was a just Judge, who is able to bring about ultimate justice.
With Jesus as our example of how to suffer graciously, it seems that our ability to suffer graciously is not tied to our own steady resolve or strong willed effort. It seems that it is directly connected to what we believe about God. Our endurance is connected to whether we really believe that God is capitol “S” sovereign and capitol “G” good. Is He able to bring sense to our suffering, Is He able to deliver? Only those who say “absolutely”, with no hesitation, will find true endurance to suffer well. We should be like Jesus, but the way to be like Jesus is to believe like Jesus.
God will justly judge all sinfulness so let us leave vengeance to Him. All people will have to give an account for what they have said and done. All sin will be paid for – either at the cross of Jesus Christ or by the sinner himself. Justice will be served. This enables the saint to persevere when he suffers injustices. Jesus takes our sins and gives us His righteousness. It is by His wounds that we are healed. We die to sin and live to righteousness. We were straying sheep and now we have returned to the Shepherd & Overseer of our souls. Let us rest in our identity in Christ and our inheritance in glory. This life is brief and glory is forever.