This Sunday, we conclude our post-Easter series titled Revive Us Again following the Revised Common Lectionary and sourced from Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church. This series attempts to help us hold on to the glory that is Resurrection! Rev. Lydia Sohn will bring our message, and she writes:
We’ve all heard it before: suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Because Christianity centers upon a suffering God and the redeeming quality of suffering, Christians have tended to elevate the experience of suffering and sacrifice to the point where they take on a holy glint.
Sometime in my twenties, I began to seriously question such theological ideas and question the notion of God delighting in our suffering and wanting us to suffer and strive for the rest of our lives in order to garner God’s favor, love, and acceptance.
I grumbled that this Sunday’s lectionary text was 1 Peter 2:19-25, a passage that one again seems to promote this harmful theology. But, whenever I have to preach on difficult texts, I try to dive in a bit deeper to see what’s really going on. And all the time, I am so grateful I do, rather than just skip the text altogether, because I understand God so much more fully.
I stand by my belief that God doesn’t want us to suffer and that suffering is the way to salvation. At the same time, we can’t deny the fact that destruction is always somewhat a part of the reconstruction process. And death is part and parcel of the process for birth.
So what does our suffering now in this pandemic and Jesus’ crucifixion mean for today’s revival and new birth? I would say they’re inextricably interwoven.
Let’s explore this idea together this Sunday.
1 Peter 2:19-25 (CEB)
19Now, it is commendable if, because of one’s understanding of God, someone should endure pain through suffering unjustly. 20But what praise comes from enduring patiently when you have sinned and are beaten for it? But if you endure steadfastly when you’ve done good and suffer for it, this is commendable before God.
21You were called to this kind of endurance, because Christ suffered on your behalf. He left you an example so that you might follow in his footsteps. 22He committed no sin, nor did he ever speak in ways meant to deceive. 23When he was insulted, he did not reply with insults. When he suffered, he did not threaten revenge. Instead, he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 24He carried in his own body on the cross the sins we committed. He did this so that we might live in righteousness, having nothing to do with sin. By his wounds you were healed. 25Though you were like straying sheep, you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your lives.
Consider these questions:
- What might it mean to be “called” as Peter affirms in verse 21?
- What is the difference between Peter’s affirmation of endurance (verse 20), trust (verse 23), and unacceptable receiving of abuse?