CALLED FOR A PURPOSE II

clip_image002TO FOLLOW IN HIS STEPS

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” 1 Peter 2:21.

To follow in the steps of Jesus Christ the suffering servant is the high calling of every Christian, but why did Christ suffer? Did He suffer for some wrong, of course not, as stated in Hebrews 7:26, “For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.” Again in 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Again in 1 Peter 2:22, “WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH;” No, Christ suffered the greatest injustice the world has ever known, He was perfectly without sin, in the right, and suffered unto the worst of deaths as a criminal at the hands of those who were perfectly wrong for wanting to kill Him.

Of this kind of suffering wrongly Charles Spurgeon writes, “A sense of injustice stings a man; he does not like to lose his rights or to be buffeted when he has done no ill; but the Spirit of Christ teaches us to “endure grief, suffering wrongfully,” — to bear still, and still to bear. We are to be like the anvil; let others strike us if they will, but we shall wear out the hammers if we only know how to stand still and bear all that is put upon us.” We should not say we are Christians and then do not follow in the footsteps of our Master, such behavior would be hypocritical and our Lord renounced hypocrisy with the utmost distain (see Matthew 23).

The Christian is called to reflect Christ and in order to do that He must be sanctified or set apart to Christ by the inner working of the Holy Spirit, which is the primary cause of our holiness. The secondary cause or condition for reflecting Christ is suffering, and the most effective is suffering when doing right. We can see this thinking in 2:20, “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God” (emphasis added). God has set up human institutions to punish people for doing wrong, there is no pleasure for God to see His children suffer for that, but when they suffer when doing right, as did His Son, this pleases Him.

Again quoting from Spurgeon, “It may be hard to bear, but in that very hardness lies much of the fragrance of it towards God. As spices must be bruised, so must you be pressed and crushed to bring out your sweetness. If you want to be where there is nothing to suffer, and no wrong to be endured, you are in the wrong world for that as yet; that will be in the world to come.” While we live in this world that rejects Christ we must expect and endure the same treatment he endured, “and while being reviled, He did not revile in return ; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” 1 Peter 2:23. We are called to live by faith and godly faith always tells us that God can be trusted even when circumstances ask how can this be good and of God.

The Christian should always be mindful that while suffering for doing right does not seem appropriate, the suffering of Christ is the means by which we receive the benefit of right standing before God, eternal life, and all the joys that heaven and the presence of God will bring. Peter reminds us of the injustice Christ endured to rectify our condition, “and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls” 1 Peter 2:24-25. If we were healed by the sufferings of Christ, should we not do the same for His glory and the salvation of others?

Some may ask, “How does our suffering lead to the salvation of others?” Our text tells us in 2:20, by the use of the term “what credit is there.” The word Credit, kleos in the Greek is to tell, a good report, fame, or renown, and of course, there is no good report in being punished for doing evil. However, when a person is “harshly treated” Kolaphizo in the Greek is in the present tense indicating continuous action, signifying that it was the habit of the "crooked" masters to "continually pummel" their slaves, the slave’s only offense being that they had lived Christ-like lives which were used by the Holy Spirit to convict the harsh taskmasters of sin. The conviction of sin in the shadow of the cross is the means by which all men come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The second purpose for the Christian’s calling is to follow the example set by Christ by returning good for evil, and in so doing we become sharers in His life, reflect His glory, and become the instruments by which He saves others.

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