NO AVOIDING SUBMISSION
Lord, teach me to endure what You have appointed for me.
Read 1 PETER 2:18–25
18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
22 “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”[a]
23 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. 24 “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.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,”[b] but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
a 1 Peter 2:22 Isaiah 53:9
b 1 Peter 2:25 Isaiah 53:4,5,6 (see Septuagint)
New International Version (NIV)
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Christ Jesus, “Who, being in very nature God… humbled himself” (Phil. 2:6,8). Thank God that he did that for us all.
In an individual-oriented society, it is not easy to submit to others. It never was—but these days we think we should have more choice about it. Power over and exploitation of others are insidious human tendencies, revealing our dark side. Indeed, for Jesus, submission led to a cross. Peter’s advice on submission begins in yesterday’s reading with the key words, “for the Lord’s sake” (13). The crucial questions are: “Where is our primary allegiance?” “What honors God?” “What furthers his purposes for this world and his church, as well as for ourselves?” Submission primarily to God sets the theme for all that follows in this chapter and the next.
Controversially, Peter’s ﬁrst speciﬁc advice to submit concerns slavery. But slavery then was not always as cruel as the situations depicted in our cinematic images of floggings and slave ships. The word Peter uses here suggests domestic servants, many of whom were considered part of the family, or indentured only for a time, working off debts. Other slaves served as managers of estates, tutors and respected professionals. In the culture of the time, Peter, like Paul, commended submission to the master’s authority as to God (“God’s slaves,” 16). Peter is not condoning violence against another person. Indeed, slavery as a systematic societal exploitation is indefensible.
In his recent autobiography (Not Forgotten) about his imprisonment in North Korea, Kenneth Bae describes the difference it made to his relationship with his guards when, after much emotional struggle, he ﬁnally accepted that, although he wanted out, it was God’s plan for him to be in that place at that time. Paul recommends taking freedom if it becomes available, because in Christ we are brothers and sisters, not masters and servants (Philem. 16; 1 Cor. 7:21). In all probability, Peter feels similarly.
Voluntarily chosen submission is subversive. Have you seen it change relationships in your own life?
Lord, show Your people how to suffer with dignity, especially when we suffer wrongfully, not for our faults but for Your sake.