1 Peter 2:19-25 (NRSV)
Verse 19For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. Verse 20If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God's approval. Verse 21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. Verse 22"He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." Verse 23When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. Verse 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. Verse 25For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.
Though not included in today’s reading, verse 18 makes clear that many of the writer’s readers were slaves, who are encouraged to live by the example of Jesus who patiently endured unjust suffering. Having just finished Black History Month at the time I am writing this, I include a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Nonviolent resistance motivated by love, not hate, was the example of Jesus. Jesus bore our sins that we might be free from sin. That we might live for righteousness. That we might be healed. In the midst of our suffering we can entrust ourselves to the shepherd and guardian of our souls who judges justly and graciously so that we might not be overcome by hate and bitterness but rather faith working through love.
God of mercy, in our suffering, produce in us endurance, character and hope through your love poured out for us through your Holy Spirit. Give us courage to speak out for justice on behalf of others who are suffering unjustly. Amen.