Happenings around Antioch

We Are Called to This

Peter wrote to the elect exiles who were living under the thumb of an oppressive Roman government, “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.” Some believe this verse was an early hymn or creed. The saints would sing or recite it often to remind themselves of this pillar upon which we stand. Notice the three powerful truths presented by Peter to all elect exiles, including you and me.

We are called to this. To what? To endure suffering while suffering unjustly. As we see in the verses that come before this one, we have to know who we are (chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation, a people for his own possession!) and what we have been given in Christ, if we are going to thrive in a world that is not our home. All Christians are called to suffer before they are glorified with him. That is the polar opposite of the so-called Prosperity Gospel, which is no gospel at all, and you can read what Paul said about anyone who preaches another gospel in Galatians 1. But look at this. We are not suffering because of fate. If we think that, we just put our heads down and embrace stoicism. We grit our teeth and endure. No, we have been called to suffer for the sake of Christ, so our heads are up and our mouths are open and we rejoice in Him!  Why?

Christ also suffered for us. That’s why. The example of Christ is one that saves. His suffering is a model for us because it produced our salvation. Notice that he suffered verbal abuse; he was reviled but did not revile in return. He suffered injury that we cannot even begin to understand, and he uttered not one word of threat. His suffering was powered by his complete and utter trust in his Father. This example of Christ’s suffering is not just a north star we look to for guidance. No, Christ’s suffering is the very center of all our motivation to love him and surrender our lives to him completely, just as he surrendered up his life for us. But you may ask, how do we do this?

We follow in his steps. I wonder if when Peter wrote that, his mind and heart went back to that charcoal fire in the courtyard on the night of Jesus’ trial. Remember, it was Peter who told Jesus that even if everybody else fell away, he would not. He would die with Jesus before he would deny him. But he did just what Jesus told him he would do. He denied the Lord three times, once with a curse. He did not follow in Jesus’ steps on that dark night when roosters crowed and strong men ran away. But after Jesus restored him, Peter followed the Lord for the rest of his life, all the way to his own crucifixion at the hands of Nero.

Are you tired and discouraged and feeling like a failure at living for Christ, and wanting to give up? Then you are just the person Jesus is looking for. He found Peter in that condition and we know how that turned out. He does the same for you and me.