What Is Our Calling?
What is our calling? To live as Christ lived. The verse we are reflecting on today comes from the second chapter of First Peter. In this chapter, Peter reminds us that we are called to be model citizens, workers and spouses. What does that mean for us as Christians? At one level we are reminded that we live in a humanly constructed social, economic and political realm. But as Christians we are to live lives enriched by the transcendent qualities of our faith in Christ Jesus. We are called to transcend those material realms by living rich spiritual lives rooted in our love for God and for one another.
Peter tells us here that we are to respect human authority, and we are to do so as free people. Our understanding of freedom, he tells us, is to be a righteous understanding. We are not to understand freedom “as a license for vice.” (verse 16) As spiritually free men and women our freedom will be recognized in our actions and words done as “servants of God” alone. Of course, acting in this way may bring suffering to us in a world that sees and bows only to political power, human laws and money. Peter, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, takes this idea further when he says, “…if you endure punishment when you have done well (according to the Law of God) that is a grace before God. This is your calling: remember Christ who suffered for you, leaving you an example so that you may follow in his way.” (verses 20-21)
If we, as Christians, take seriously this idea of following the example that Christ has given us, we may indeed incur the wrath, or the rejection of those who do not know God, but who have earthly power. We may suffer, but like Christ, we must have no deceit in our mouths. We must not return insult for insult. When we suffer, we are to do so in the manner Christ did. We are not to curse our suffering but to “put [ourselves] in the hands of God who judges justly.” (verse 23)
Jesus died for us, for our sins. As our verse for today tells us: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness…” Jesus took on and bore the entire weight of all the sins of humankind from Adam and Eve to the present in his human body. Why did he do this? So that, “…by his wounds [we would be] healed.” Because of God’s love for us; because he was willing to empty himself, to take on human flesh, to become a slave, a man like us; because he humbled himself by being subject to death, death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8), we have been healed. We have been saved from the slavery of sin and death forever. This, then, is our calling, to put ourselves, like Jesus did, in the hands of God, the only One who judges rightly. When we suffer unjustly because we have chosen to live the Christ life in this social, political and economic realm, we are to do so as he did, without rancor. Though this will never be easy for us, we can put our trust in the grace of God. He will give us the faith and the strength that we will need when those times come. This is how we will be able “to live for righteousness.” (verse 24) “For through Christ you have been granted not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him.” (verse 29)
Lord, we believe; help our unbelief. Strengthen us by your grace to see the wisdom of imitating you in all things. If at times we must suffer unjustly, let us imitate you for the good of others and for the good of our eternal souls. We ask this in Jesus’ most holy and powerful name. Amen!
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