Monday, November 13, 2023

            Peter knew Jesus really well.  He was with the Lord at some special moments in His three years of earthly service.  He witnessed Jesus’ reaction to those who hated Him and rejected Him.  In his own words, the apostle recorded Jesus’ reaction or response to those who detested Him.  Peter wrote, “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:22-24).  The disciple gave us some clear and decisive descriptions into what Christ suffered and did.  We also find some words that speak to us today and how we can handle suffering and injustices that come our way.
            First, we learn that injustices and injuries do happen.  We all face them at times.  No one is safe from them.  No one is immune.  Many in the first century loathed Jesus and turned violently against Him—even to the point of calling for Him to suffer a horrible and agonizing death on a hideous cross.  Jesus reminded His disciples (and even us too) that we should expect suffering, to some extent, because of our relationship with Him.  We remember that Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).  We may suffer for our faith, an unpopular stand for truth or a refusal to participate in sinful activities.  The world systems, and even many who live in the world, are aligned against the Lord’s ways and wisdom.  So, suffering is to be expected and not a surprise.
            Second, insults and accusations do not require retaliation.  We do not want to engage in sin if we have to defend ourselves or respond to the accusations of others. There is never a reason to respond to the sins of others with sins of our own. We want to live above sinfulness and not fight the way the world fights.  Often, silence is the best response.  We do not want to pay back threats with more threats or insults with worse insults.  If someone hurls mud, we do not have to toss a handful in return.  We can rise above that kind of behavior.
            Third, we can always entrust ourselves to God and His defense.  We can trust that He will provide for us as we endure suffering or struggles.  His grace will always remain sufficient for us no matter what the trial or offense may be.  Likewise, we can entrust those who injure or offend us to God as well.  We can trust that He will make things right and settle any outstanding scores or debts.  Paul gave us some remarkable counsel for how to deal with enemies and those who mean us harm.  In Romans, Paul wrote, “On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20-21).  Jesus said, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).  We will never regret pursuing what is right and distancing ourselves from what is wrong.
            Fourth, we may have a cross to carry at certain times.  Jesus was obedient even to the cross and the point of death.  We may have to practice radical obedience at times.  We may experience suffering for doing what is right.  We may have to take some blows for the cause of Christ and the gospel message.  Many times today, we do not even like to be inconvenienced for the cause of Christ.  We are not willing to change our schedules for the cause of Christ.  But there could well be times when we have to make some major changes or adjustments for the cause of Christ.  We may have to suffer.  We may have to deny ourselves.  We may have to embrace and say yes to things we would have found to be unimaginable or unthinkable a year earlier.  The cost of discipleship is high.  The cost of salvation is priceless.  Our salvation cost the Father the life of His Son.  Our salvation cost the Son His life.  To know Christ and to walk with Christ may cost us everything...but then we gain eternity in return.  Have a great day!  Make plans to be with us for Homecoming this Sunday as we thank God for His many blessings!

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