For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned,nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted,nor threaten revenge when he suffered.He left his case in the hands of God,who always judges fairly. ~ 1 Peter 2:21-23
Today this passage in Peter’s letter to the church came alive. I know that Christ suffered willingly at our expense. I know He was lead to “the slaughter like a lamb”. Yet, Peter emphasizes that Jesus did not even threaten revenge.
We Americans have such a difficult time understanding the message of peace and reconciliation. We are constantly fighting for our “rights”. We retaliate and lash out whenever we feel threatened in our faith. We are willing, and sometimes eager, to tear down the non-Christian and even our own brothers and sisters in Christ when someone disagrees with our beliefs.
During this Lenten season, let us take a moment to reflect on our understanding of Christ’s message of peace. We would do well to examine ourselves to see if we are quick to fight, argue, or debate our differences. There is a difference between standing firm in what we believe, and trying to force others to see it our way.
Some of you are already beginning to disagree with me. And some of you are even getting angry at my post. You are thinking “what about Jesus calling the Pharisees ‘hypocrites'”? Jesus argued with those who didn’t agree with Him.
However, most of what I see rarely comes close to the context of Jesus debating the Pharisees. Most of what I see falls into a category of manipulation. If we cannot convince people “we are right”, if we cannot prove with logic that “we know best”, then we begin to force our beliefs upon others in a manipulative and vengeful way.
Let us think about our spiritual conversations with others this Lent. Do we dismiss others who disagree as stupid, heretical, ignorant, or evil? Do we find ourselves devaluing others? Do we have a spirit of revenge even though Christ has called us to forgive?
In the words of Peter, He is our example, and we must follow Him.
Keep winning in Lent!