How do you respond to injustice? There is within everyone a yearning to speak up, to take action, to retaliate, and to seek justice. However, when taking justice into our own hands the injustice, violence, and troubles only prolongate. Jesus provides the example and inspiration for enduring injustice and hardship.
Here we learn a lot about Peter’s audience. Some are servants working for mean, hurtful, and unjust bosses simply because they are worshiping Jesus (v.18). They are enduring much sorrow, suffering unjustly (v.19), and being sinned against for no good reason. So Peter explains how they as Christians are to live with authorities, even evil ones. Peter knows what it was like to live under a corrupt, power-heavy, god-complex emperor and his underlings. He too faced persecution and hardships from their hands, yet he says the way you respond can have a good affect on the way they rule.
“Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” – 1 Peter 2:18-25, ESV
You will be rewarded by God for endurance and silence. We shouldn’t stop being Christian when someone is being mean or unjust by seeking revenge or resorting to violence in return. Praise God for groups like International Justice Mission and Slavery No More who are doing great work to help those who can’t help themselves. Yet, at the end of the day, it is God who sees injustice and judges the unjust (v.20).
You are a servant of Jesus above all. The bottom line is that enduring injustice is equal to following Christ. You should expect the world to applaud that you are a Christian, in fact, most Christians around the world are suffering persecution for following Jesus. It is through that persecution that the church grows in faith and numbers and the world sees the example of Christ in you (vs.21-24a).
You are safe with Jesus. He is your example and sin-bearing Savior. He was falsely accused, harassed by an evil regime, faced extreme injustice, yet through it all he did not sin. Through Jesus suffering on the cross we see a great mercy. It was your sin that nailed him to the cross, yet Jesus willingly died in your place so that by his wounds you can be healed (v.24). Miraculously, you are dead to sin and alive to Christ. Jesus is our Shepherd in times of distress (v.25). Run to him. You are safe with him.
Questions for Reflection:
- How do you normally respond to injustice? How does injustice often breed more injustice and violence in response? How does Jesus respond to injustice done to him? How is his response often different than yours? Why did he respond this way?
- What do you learn about Peter’s audience from this passage? Where in your life are you subject to unjust authorities? What does it look like to entrust yourself to God in the midst of injustice?
- What does it mean for a Christian to endure? What are some things you want to give up on or quit over because they are difficult? What can you do to endure better?
- Is it okay to be sad or sorrowful over injustice and suffering? How did Jesus express sorrow? How is it a comfort to you to know that Jesus in “a Man of sorrows”? (cf. Isaiah 53:4; John 11:35)
- What is the difference between suffering unjustly and suffering for sins we commit? Why does God call some to suffer unjustly? How did Jesus suffer unjustly? How did he treat those who made him suffer? How did Jesus injustice bring about justice?
- How has Jesus healed you by his wounds? How is Jesus your Shepherd and Overseer? Read Psalm 23. Where in your life do you need to entrust your life to Jesus and die to sin?