Suffering for what is right
Jesus suffered, though he was righteous, and if we will now set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts and follow in his footsteps we can be delivered from the fear of our persecutors, confident that through suffering we will share his victory.
So, you might ask, how do we follow in Christ’s footsteps? I think of some of the good military war-time movies I have watched, especially the scenes where landmines are involved. You watch as one soldier trained especially in detecting mines.( the best discover them without tripping them to explode) The other soldiers wait quietly as the trained soldier navigates the area suspected of mines. They patiently await their opportunity to navigate the same area. The soldier finishes finding his way across the minefield, turns back to his comrades and says okay follow my steps exactly. At this point the soldiers are most likely thinking, I should have been paying more attention.
If we do follow Christ we may very well suffer ass He suffered. Many a trained soldiers do not make it across the minefield without casualty. The well trained soldier does his job because others follow that depend upon his training and ability to navigate the dangers ahead.
1 Peter 3:13 (NRSV)
13 Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? This is a good question, and often times our fear can get the best of us. Someone might try and do us harm right? 1 Peter 3:14 (NRSV)
14 But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, This all looks good on paper, right, but lets look at some of the sufferings by the early Christians
In the early second century, Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch, wrote letters to a number of churches on the way to his execution in Rome. In these letters, Ignatius begs the churches to pray for him, but not to interfere with his impending martyrdom, which will allow him to be not simply “a mere voice,” but indeed “a word of God” (Rom. 2.1). In this, Ignatius draws upon the example of “our God Jesus Christ,” who “is more visible now that he is in the Father” than he was in his own earthly life (Rom. 3.3). Chained and escorted by a company of soldiers, Ignatius writes that though his guards only abuse him more when they are treated kindly, “[y]et because of their mistreatment I am becoming more of a disciple” (Rom. 5.1). Ignatius indeed rejoices in the closeness that his suffering brings him to God:
“The one near to the sword is near to God, and he who is in the midst of beasts is in the midst of God: only let it be in the name of Jesus Christ, so as to suffer together with him. I endure all things because he, the perfect man, empowers me” (Smyr. 5.1).https://ifesworld.org/en/)
In my second heading I stated Honor Christ. This is verse, 1 Peter 3:15 (NRSV)
15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; We must glorify Christ in our actions. Ignatius wrote his letters to churches not to plead for his rescue but to ask the followers to not get in the way of his works, which ended in his death. This is following in the footsteps of Christ. John 3:16 (NRSV)
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Christ gave of himself for our sake. Jesus tells us to pick up our cross daily and follow him. The story I shared earlier depicts a soldier giving of himself so that those who rely on his talents will be safe. He gives his life for his friends. John 15:13 (NRSV)
13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Verse 16 explains that we must do this in gentleness, 1 Peter 3:16 (NRSV)
16 yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. Keep yourself controlled so that you will not be put to shame. 1 Peter 3:17 (NRSV)
17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.
1 Peter 3:18 (NRSV)
18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, Now this next verse can be difficult to understand but Peter is not talking about mankind who has died, but of fallen Angels. 2 Peter 2:4 (NRSV)
4 For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgment; As we look at the next few verses quickly, consider the Angels in Genesis 6. 1 Peter 3:19–22 (NRSV)
19 in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20 who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21 And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.
In closing today, what should we take for ourselves and apply to our current life? In order to follow the footsteps of Christ you must pay attention to His steps. People fall short because they don’t pay attention, they don’t wake and pray, they don’t ask.