For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

1 Peter 3: 17

Peter was aware of two realities that had faced him as he followed Christ, and he was also certain that they would face every other person who traveled that same path through life. Firstly, suffering and pain would come to each of us in the wake of our encounter with Christ, and secondly, all of our thoughts, words, and actions would order under one of two headings as they would be either good or evil. Although these categories or divisions of the content of life may seem extreme or even as overly simplistic and harsh, they represent the reality of how the content of all people’s lives are ordered when it comes to their most basic of descriptors. We effect good, or we bring about evil. Neutrality is not a part of what it means to serve a master in this world, and all of us are ordered under someone to whom we pledge our allegiance.

Christ leads us into that good side of the equation of life, and His Spirit works within us to bring about change that permeates the deepest aspects of our beings so that these changes have a positive impact upon the way that we think, and so, they also transform the words that we speak and the things that we do. In this process of change our will can come to our aid or it can work to hinder the progress that we will make in assimilating Christ as our identity and image. For as we yield to Christ and surrender control of the deepest aspects of our selves to the work of the Spirit, then we are most profoundly impacted by the presence of the Lord in our lives. When we hold on to areas of our beings that we find comfortable and deem as important to us, we tend to retard that same growth into Godliness.

I am not suggesting that this form of deep and highly personal surrender is easy, for it tends to involve aspects of our identity and being that have been developed over the entire course of life to date, and it also impacts us in places where we find some of our greatest sense of security and self-determined peace. Yet, even these aspects of life are ones in which Christ is asking us to enter into a form of the suffering that the righteous journey requires of all travelers along the holiness road. When we place the prized possessions of our egos and our escapist thoughts and actions upon the altar of Christ’s cross, we begin a journey of faith that will take us upon an often painful journey into transformative healing for those places within our souls that have been rubbed raw by our days of living in this harsh and broken world. The decision to accept whatever pain may come in the process, whether it is ours internally or derives from external sources, is a first step into pursuing good and rejecting evil. 

For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

1 Peter 3: 17

 

Almost no one likes to suffer, and most of us don’t enjoy seeing others doing it either. Yet, suffering seems to come with the territory of living on this earth. There is no magic potion or divine incantation that sets us free from it. Suffering comes to all of us at some time along this journey through life, and for most of us it surrounds us with a painful sort of frequency. Perhaps you shouldn’t explain this to someone who you are sharing Christ with, but suffering comes to followers of Christ with as much or with even more regularity than it does to those who do not believe in Him. Although we are in Christ, even as those of us who are highly committed to following His will, we will experience suffering.

 

In fact, followers of Christ have drawn a target on our backs, at least that is how it seems; for, in accepting Christ we are rejecting the way of this world. Those forces are powerful and infiltrate every corner of our planet with their winsome words, crafty deceits, oppressive control, and overt violence. By truly living in a manner that demonstrates the truth and the righteousness of the Gospel of Christ we are calling out Satan, all of his forces of darkness, and a culture that accepts his worldly shadow-truth as it own rendition of the gospel. This is a form of a declaration of war on the brokenness of this world; so, in Christ, we become engaged in the minute-by-minute combat that this conflict entails.

 

Yet, Christ calls us to fight a different sort of war than the one that the opposition wages. We are given an arsenal of tools to utilize that starts with love, grace, and sacrifice. Christ modeled these for us, and He grants the strength, courage, and wisdom needed to live with them at the forefront of our engagement with the world. Faith in Christ also grants us a form of hope that is lacking in the culture around us, for it is based upon the eternal nature and character of God. This hope grants to us the certainty of an unending existence with God, and it also gives us His perspective on living today so that we can dwell in this broken place with peace in our hearts and minds. We all do suffer; yet, in Christ, that suffering has a purpose as it takes our focus off of ourselves and places it on the Lord’s loving presence, and it points others toward the One who will do the same for them.