Day 4

A Call to Good Works

from the 1 & 2 Peter reading plan

1 Peter 2:11-25, Romans 13:1-7, Galatians 5:13-14

BY Claire Gibson

Injustice of any kind is hard to bear. When I’m on the receiving end of hate, my natural inclination is to defend myself. To fight back. I have little strength to shoulder the weight of false accusations, unfair treatment, or slights on my character. And yet, that’s exactly what the passage in 1 Peter 2 is asking me to do: put down my rights and “submit to every human institution” (v.13).

Before we continue, it’s important to address the part of this passage that tells slaves to submit to their masters. The Greek word used here refers to household or domestic servants who would’ve also been slaves. Slavery in the first century was different than the American version of race-based slavery of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Peter is not advocating for slavery as a system. He is instead dealing with it as a reality that some of the recipients of his letter lived under. For our purposes, it’s best to read this passage with the phrase “lowly workers” in mind. Peter was instructing Christians to endure their pain with grace.

Peter would know. On more than one occasion, an oppressive government imprisoned him for his beliefs and preaching. He would eventually be crucified. In that place of oppression, he continued preaching the gospel, trusting that God would use every ounce of his suffering for the good of the world. He submitted to the path that God had paved for him, even though that path included hardship.

If you cringe at the word “submission,” you’re in good company. Submission is extremely counter-cultural in our “YOLO” society. An acronym short for you only live once, YOLO is a rallying cry that places happiness as the ultimate aim of life. If we only have this one life to live, we might as well make it a great, fun, exciting one, right? I have to admit, it’s a pretty attractive philosophy. But it stands at complete odds with Christianity.

We also live in a society that rails against injustice with ever-increasing outrage. Police brutality, racial bias in our judicial system, gender wage gaps, sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace—these are serious problems, constantly dominating my news feeds. But the problem with focusing all of my attention and outrage on the world’s ills is that I can so easily lose sight of my own sin. I begin to want change out there far more than I desire change in my own heart.

Rather than focus his eyes on the injustice leveraged against him, Peter chose to focus on the injustices he’d perpetrated against God, forgiven by Jesus’s blood. He knew the truth: Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection replaces our temporary perspective with an eternal one.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree;
so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness (1 Peter 2:24).

As a Christ-follower, you’re not only going to live once—you’re going to live forever. Discomfort, pain, and injustice are real, but they are fleeting when compared to the glory and love of our Savior. I’d rather serve Jesus than my own happiness. And I can trust Jesus to use the injustices I see around me for the good of His kingdom.

How do I know this? Because He suffered a sham trial, a wrongful conviction, and bloody death—on my behalf. And thank God He did. Jesus transformed the ultimate injustice into the world’s greatest good.

Post Comments (50)

50 thoughts on "A Call to Good Works"

  1. Keturah G says:

    It’s not always going to be fair, it’s not always going to make sense and we won’t always see justice throughout the land in every single system, to the extent in which we desire to see it, but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t see and Him being a just God means He’ll always pay back as He sees fit, and when, even if we don’t see it or ever get to see it.

    We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and we’ll be just fine even until the end of time.

  2. Brianna Nitz says:

    I am wrestling with just about every part of the message this morning. How can I submit to corrupt leaders? How can I sit in my own little prosperous, American Christian bubble when citizens of other countries are living under rulers whose only goal is to suppress them? How can I just turn away and “trust that the injustice is for the betterment of His kingdom”? This was a very tough one.

  3. Karly White says:

    I don’t believe this passage nor the author of this devotional is suggesting to be silent in the face of oppression, but to maintain perspective. Obviously there are many examples of Christians (of whom Peter, the author of this book in the Bible is one; he wasn’t martyred without cause) who went against cultural and political norms. Submission in this context isn’t about letting one’s head be bowed by injustices but about letting your goodness shine through the darkness. Sometimes that means honoring those in authority, even if we disagree with them. For example, I dislike many politicians past and present, but I don’t think I would spit on any of them, because as a Christian that goes against my witness. Does that mean I don’t reject unjust policies? No. I have family members who have deeply hurt me? Do I slander them to others? No. Because that would go against my witness as a Christian. But I do not allow them to hurt me further. And so on.

    Finally, it’s also about perspective; so often injustice starts, so to speak, with the man in the mirror. Sure, I didn’t perpetuate slavery or the Holocaust, but I have supported, consciously and unconsciously, things that have benefitted from the oppression of others. I cannot turn a blind eye to myself when I want to implicate the world for injustice. If everyone took a good hard look at themselves and removed the planks from their eyes then we would get to the heart of systematic injustices.

  4. Naomi Dibdin says:

    ‘Submit as free people’ in following God he has set us free through Grace. He has given us a choice in how we respond to those who seek to harm. In choosing Love we are not lying down and accepting what is being done, but showing that God has given us another way to do things. In love we can stand for God.

  5. Jennifer Anapol says:

    The idea of suffering for doing the right things is really hard to accept. I think it’s natural for us to want to remain comfortable, no matter the price. This reading encouraged me to not shy away from suffering. Although, that doesn’t mean I should seek it out.

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