Saturday, April 18, 2015

1 Peter 2:21-23 -- On Christ's Example

"For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:"
1 Peter 2:21-23

Christ set an incredible example for us.  Not one that was meant to be unobtainable, but one that we can strive for, and become ever closer to as we work to follow him.
I'm not saying that suffering is fun, or that it isn't tempting to fight back sometimes... but it is in exactly those moments when we *have* been wronged and it is clearly unjust when Christ's example means the most.  He didn't return evil for evil.  He didn't threaten when he was suffering.  He was the one who had the power to do what we might all dream of doing at one time or another.  He had the power to stop everyone who was hurting him.  He had the power to visit justice on them and never allow them to accost anyone else with their power hungry falsehoods and corruption.  But instead, he turned to Heavenly Father, knowing that what they did couldn't touch him on any level that mattered in the eternal scheme of things.  Even in his pain, he refrained from harming or threatening anyone who wronged him.  Just as he passed on judging the woman taken in adultery, and just as he passes on judging us, and allows us to live our lives and learn and grow and hopefully improve... he allowed even his own tormentors the same space to live and change and become who they chose to become.
Setting an example is really hard in our worst moments.  Those are the moments that we are most tempted... to lash out, to verbally deride or to physically punish.  We want a lightning bolt to come and make things fair and right and to correct the injustice or heal the harm.  But let's try to remember that sometimes we have been the ones that have been unfair to others, who have judged incorrectly or harmed other people, and have walked away unscathed.  We're all in this together.  Just as we have been given a pass for doing bad things, so we should often give others a pass... and commit ourselves to God, who will make everything right in the end.
I think sometimes we think that serving God shouldn't cause us anguish.  That it's better to lash out now and feel better, or that allowing injustice to exist is intolerable.  And certainly there are cases where we need to go to the authorities and prevent further people from being harmed, or remove ourselves from a deteriorating situation.  But I think that often we just want to be right, and we want someone to prove it and show it.  And sometimes we just want something to relieve the sense of betrayal and the pain that we feel.  But holding on to our negative emotions will cause us more anguish than anything else.  If we can actually get to the point where we can sincerely pray for the people who have wronged us, asking the Lord to soften their hearts and help them make better decisions, then maybe we are getting closer to the way that Christ feels about us all.  As it says in the verse directly before this selection: "For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."  Today, even when it is hard, and even when it causes us suffering, let's try to follow Christ's example, let go of our grudges and resentments, and give space to each other to repent.

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