Walking in the Way of the Cross
Beloved sojourners, resist evil and do good for the glory of God. As we relate to fellow believers, we abstain from things that divide us (1 Pet. 3:8). We always bear in mind that we are siblings in Christ Jesus. So we have nothing to do with idle chatter that tears down, harshness of spirit toward one another, or arrogance. And as we relate to all people, we don’t repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but we bless, “for to this you were called” (1 Pet. 3:9). This is the same call—the call to walk in the steps of Christ (1 Pet. 2:21). When, like Jesus, we bless the very person who persecutes us, we display our Christian identity in its most brilliant colors.
A dear friend of mine who is African American shared a story with me. His grandfather, Reverend Willie Jenkins Jr., raised his family in Pearl, Mississippi. Rev. Jenkins endured serious hardship since many politically and socially empowered people in his day mistreated him because of the color of his skin. Things grew especially tense in Pearl in the 1960s; families such as the Jenkinses, acting on the basis of their Christian conviction, worked toward ethnic integration in public schools.
When we make visible God’s goodness to a lost world, he is near, and his favor rests upon us.
In response, a group of white teenagers habitually cruised through the Jenkins’s neighborhood, firebombing homes. One night, these white teenagers terrorized the neighborhood again. Rev. Jenkins and his young sons stood outside their house, ready to defend their family if need be. While the teenagers were engaging in their usual violence, the unexpected happened: they ran out of gas. Right in front of the Jenkins’s home. Before Rev. Jenkins stood a group of teenagers who repeatedly had victimized his family. His sons—stunned by the turn of events—looked up at their dad, ready to follow his command.
He slowly left his post, picked up a glass bottle, and shattered it on the ground. His sons thought, “Here it comes!” To heir great surprise, Rev. Jenkins then walked over to his car and started syphoning gasoline. His sons watched their father walk toward the white teenagers. With blood from the glass that had cut his skin and with gasoline running down his arm, he kneeled down and filled up the empty tank of his oppressors.
A Costly, But Blessed Way
This is the way of the cross. It’s a costly way, but a blessed way. We know this way is blessed because we’ve seen how God the Father responded to his Son’s way of life. He raised him from the dead, enthroned him at his right hand, and gave him rule over the entire cosmos (cf. Phil 2:5–11). God calls us to walk this Calvary road because he desires to bless us too: “that you may obtain a blessing” (1 Pet. 3:9).
Peter teaches us this in 1 Peter 3:9–12 as he applies Psalm 34:12–16 to believers in Christ Jesus. We obtain this blessing in part now, and we’ll obtain it fully in the future. We’re blessed now: “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer” (3:12).
When we make visible God’s goodness to a lost world, he is near, and his favor rests upon us. We know resurrection life in this world of suffering. And we’ll be blessed in the future. Peter writes of seeing “good days” (3:10). When we lean upon the context of the whole letter, we understand the scope of these good days; and we will indeed see them. We will know resurrection life in the new heaven and the new earth—the place of our ultimate citizenship, where God will wipe away every tear and where he will reign in justice.
As we follow Christ in a death like his, so we shall follow him in a resurrection like his (cf. Rom 6:5). Now we follow Jesus far from home, but one great and glorious day we shall follow Jesus home. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
This article is adapted from Resurrection Life in a World of Suffering: 1 Peter edited by D. A. Carson and Kathleen Nielson.
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