SOCIAL ACTIVISM OR THE GOSPEL?

I PETER 2:18-25: “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness— by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” NKJV
‭‭
OBSERVATION: What is our call as Christ-followers with regard to the world we live in? Is it to rise up in social activism to right the wrongs of this world? Or, is it to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in every situation, vocation, and location we find ourselves in.

It is tough to speak about slavery. We should all abhor this former practice in the United States. In fact, it was Christ-followers who led the charge to eradicate slavery in our land. However, was it their social activism that led them, or was it their response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that propelled them into action?

The context of Peter’s words regarding suffering for righteousness sake is in the context of slavery. Slavery was the norm of their world. Many slaves became believers. How were they to respond now to their masters? If Jesus was their Lord, how could they serve another? Should they rise up in a revolt to set themselves free?

Peter’s answer can be misunderstood. One needs to put on their critical thinking cap. Peter’s words can also be used to justify a practice that we all abhor. These words, along with others, were used to justify slavery. However, if we misuse his words it is because we do not understand the overarching truth that Peter was making in his epistle. Peter was not addressing slavery as a practice that was either good or evil. Peter was focused on the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

  • “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. “

How we respond to the situations in life, albeit how unjust they may be, is a reflection of our faith in God. When we understand that our actions are the living witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we will pause before acting. It is easy to protest and burn down a city. It is another thing altogether to patiently suffer for righteousness sake in order to maintain one’s witness for Jesus Christ.

I will never forget a Gospel tract that I read in High School. At this time I was not walking with Christ. There were some “Jesus Freaks” who would jam these tracts in our lockers. One of the tracks was entitled, “Holy Joe.” It was a story about a soldier who was ridiculed for his faith. The other soldiers would throw their boots at Joe. Joe would then take their boots, polish them, and give them back to the other soldiers. Joe suffered injustice in order to shine with the love and testimony of Jesus Christ.

Peter reminds us that this is exactly what Jesus did. Jesus endured mistreatment and suffering for our benefit. He endured the cross so that we might experience life.

  • “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness— by whose stripes you were healed.”

The application of this truth is a very difficult thing. We are called to suffer for righteousness sake, but we are not called to suffer for wrongdoing or to continue in a situation that is harmful and destructive. This is not a call for an abused wife to continue allowing her husband to abuse her. Nor is it an excuse for any type of sinful behavior. It is a call for the believer to consider their actions in all situations – in light of the Gospel!

The presiding principle is – in my actions, will people see Jesus? In my actions, will I be showing the righteousness of Christ? In my actions, will people see a difference that is a reflection of the grace of God working in my life?

These are difficult times. As we take a stand for Jesus, as we proclaim the truth of the Gospel, we will experience suffering. We will be attacked, misunderstood, judged, and marginalized. We will be tempted to rise up and defend ourselves. We may even be tempted to strike back. Yet, in all that we do, in all that we say, we need to consider the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls – Jesus Christ!

  • “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously…”

If we respond to these words with an argument, we have not heard them. If we respond to these words with anger, we have not heard them. If we use them to justify our sinful actions, we have not heard them. If there is anything more important to us then seeing men and women come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, we have missed their intent.

Lord, these words are speaking directly to my heart. I wrestle with them deep within. I find myself pulled between activism and surrender. I confess that I have not fully considered these words in all of my actions. May I come anew to Your cross and find the grace I need to suffer without fighting, to speak without anger, and to make the proclamation of the Gospel the most important thing in my life!

In Jesus Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is the Founder of Resurrection Christian Outreach. RCO is a ministry that promotes the growth and vitality of the local church through speaking engagements, seminars, various media tools, and written curriculum and books. This ministry was started over 35 years ago by Kirk as a means to strengthen the church that he was pastoring. It grew as Kirk began to share these tools with other churches. Today many of the materials are being used by local churches both nationally and internationally. Kirk's Devotional Journal is a result of struggling with Bible reading programs that never seemed to work. Kirk feels the Lord helped him discover an easy to follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year. This program is called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information on the L.I.F.E. plan, send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com. Kirk is also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats. With over 40 years of professional business and pastoral ministry experience, Kirk brings a unique combination of practical wisdom, humor, and Biblical insight. If you would like Kirk to speak at your church, school, or ministry, please send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your opportunity.
This entry was posted in I Peter. Bookmark the permalink.

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s