Christ Our Example: I Peter 2:11-25


Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojourners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul. Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that if they speak of you as evildoers, they may observe your good works and glorify God on the day of visitation.  Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good. For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people. Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God. Give honor to all, love the community, fear God, honor the king. Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse. For whenever anyone bears the pain of unjust suffering because of consciousness of God, that is a grace. But what credit is there if you are patient when beaten for doing wrong? But if you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten; instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Keep away from worldly desires and maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, these two things, seem not to be able to co-exist, according to Peter. For if we don’t keep away from worldly desires we can then be accused of acting as evildoers. But if our good conduct can be seen not only is God glorified by it, we reveal the hearts of our accusers!

Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, this should be our lifestyle, even in the political arena. This isn’t a suggestion that Peter offers, it’s a command! And a hard one to live up to at that. I certainly do not agree with all the legislation and actions of our politicians today, and some of the governments decisions. I also know it is merely a human institution. I do not put my faith or trust in what they say or do, even though I abide by their laws. Instead, I put my trust and faith in Jesus Christ, who established an institution that is both divine and human; His Holy Catholic Church. For it is Jesus’ Church which has proclaimed the Gospel, from the beginning and will continue to proclaim it after we are long gone – or until He returns for His Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraph 771:

“The one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains here on earth his holy Church, the community of faith, hope, and charity, as a visible organization through which he communicates truth and grace to all men.” The Church is at the same time:

  •  a “society structured with hierarchical organs and the mystical body of Christ;
  • the visible society and the spiritual community;
  • the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches.”
These dimensions together constitute “one complex reality which comes together from a human and a divine element”:
    The Church is essentially both human and divine, visible but endowed with invisible realities, zealous in action and dedicated to contemplation, present in the world, but as a pilgrim, so constituted that in her the human is directed toward and subordinated to the divine, the visible to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, the object of our quest.O humility! O sublimity! Both tabernacle of cedar and sanctuary of God; earthly dwelling and celestial palace; house of clay and royal hall; body of death and temple of light; and at last both object of scorn to the proud and bride of Christ! She is black but beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem, for even if the labor and pain of her long exile may have discolored her, yet heaven’s beauty has adorned her. 

Peter continues his exhortation in doing good and even says it is God’s will for us stating, that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people.

He then goes on to give the “freedom and responsibility” speech, that every teenager has heard and every parent has given. Again, the command is to not use our freedom as an excuse for sinning. The freedom that Christ has given us is, in fact, the freedom to say “NO” to sin. Before our baptism, we were powerless to say “NO” to sin, but Jesus baptizes us with “the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt. 3:11). This fire, as a refiners fire, purifies our souls, making it possible to say “YES” to Jesus and “NO” to sin.*

Peter also tells us this freedom allows us the grace to endure suffering as Christ did, for in all things He is our example. If we bear the pain of unjust suffering because of consciousness of God, that is a grace, if we are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God.

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps…. This is something I didn’t hear preached in my former faith tradition, “Called to suffer.” Who wants to hear about that? “By His stripes we are healed!” That’s what the people want to hear! And therein lies the problem; the people want to hear it so the preacher has to preach it, that is, if he wants to remain their preacher!

Because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps. So not only have we been called to live as Christ lived, we’ve been called to act in our sufferings as Christ acted in His sufferings. It’s so easy to bless those who come to you and ask you for help, but it’s much harder to say, “Father forgive them, they no not what they do” in our times of persecution and trials. Do we really act like Jesus then, or do we act like spoiled children, stomping our feet and screaming at the top of our lungs, “It’s not fair!!” or “Why me?!?”

Peter also tells us that Jesus  bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin*[as stated above], we might live for righteousness. He is our example in every aspect of our lives, whether in peaceful times or times of suffering.

So this week, let us evaluate where we are in developing our Christian “lifestyle.” Is Jesus my example? Can people see Him in me, through my life in suffering or contentment? Let us also reflect on our Baptismal promises and determine ourselves to walk in “newness of life.” Quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1694:

Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, Christians are “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” and so participate in the life of the Risen Lord. Following Christ and united with him, Christians can strive to be “imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love” by conforming their thoughts, words and actions to the “mind . . . which is yours in Christ Jesus,” and by following his example.

Amen.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: