allowed, for all were brothers and sisters . . . however shocking that was to society at large.´
Whilethe NT does not speak against the institution of slavery, it does teach
are brothers and sisters inChrist. That¶s worth remembering when we move beyond slavery to address other social issues thatconfront society today.Coming back to our text, Peter specifically addresses slaves, but we don¶t have to go very far tounderstand that
Christians are slaves in and to Christ. Paul wrote to the Romans, ³Do you notknow that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom youobey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks beto God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slavesof righteousness.´
Therefore, as slaves of Christ, this teaching of 1 Peter is as much for us today as itwas for the house slaves to whom the letter was first written.What is it that Peter teaches again? That as followers of Christ, as slaves of Christ, we will suffer unjustly, suffer because we obey God¶s teachings. We¶ll suffer for following Christ¶s teachings. ³For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endurewhen you are beaten for doing wrong,´ Peter writes, ³what credit is that? But if you endure when youdo right and suffer for it, you have God¶s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christalso suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.´³Our culture gives us values that we absorb before we¶re old enough to think. Our culture teaches usto believe in power and control. It teaches us the value of being self-made and creating our owndestiny. It teaches us the importance of education and learning. It rewards people who can create newmarkets or new innovations with large amounts of money. Our culture teaches us that money can buyus a sexy lifestyle or conspicuous consumption. It lures us with the promise that enough money cansatisfy any conceivable lust and that we can have all of this if we would.´
Peter reminds us that Jesus calls us in a whole other direction from the world. We shouldn¶t besurprised therefore that, first, following the ways of the world are unsatisfying in the long run, andsecond, the world doesn¶t appreciate it when we follow Jesus and not what it teaches us. When wefollow Jesus, our encounters with the world are likely to be painful or frustrating. When we practiceactive non-violence, when we turn the other check, the world may very well not know how to react tous, and may strike out at us. When we return good for evil, when we seek to love our enemy, theworld may think we¶re crazy, and may think it can simply overwhelm us, or ignore us, or by makingus suffer, make us go away.It¶s difficult to endure this suffering. It¶s difficult to stand out from the crowd, to speak out for peacein a time of war, to proclaim love in a time of hate. When all the country still cries out for revengeeven 10 years following the WTC destruction, it¶s frightening to work for peace, or nonviolence, to
2. Davids, Peter H, The First Epistle of Peter, The New International Commentary on the New Testament,William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich, 1990, pp. 105-106.3. Romans 6:16-18 (New Revised Standard Version)4. Rush, Charles, ³The Integrity of Enduring Character,´ The Clergy Journal, January 2002, VolumeLXXVIII, Number 3, p. 43.