Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Non-resistant living

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Peter 2:13-25

TO CHEW ON: "'Who committed no sin
Nor was deceit found in His mouth'
Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return' when He suffered He did not threaten, but committed himself to Him who judges righteously." 1 Peter 2:22-23

When Peter told his readers how to conduct themselves while being mistreated he wasn't talking only theory. His letter was written to Christians in Asia Minor who were being persecuted for their faith in Christ. They were mostly converted Gentiles whose change from their former lifestyle of pagan living ("lewdness, drunkenness, and idolatries" 1 Peter 4:3) surprised the neighbours (1 Peter 4:4).

Perhaps even more surprising than their drawing back from the old entertainments and indulgences would be their docility in the face of harsh treatment if they followed Peter's advice. The high standard that Peter put before them was to act like Jesus acted. Jesus didn't talk back. He didn't threaten. Instead, He committed Himself to God, who would sort it out completely fairly.

When reading this passage, I'm tempted to ask, this doesn't actually apply to me, does it? After all, I live in a country where human rights are upheld, where, if I'm treated unfairly people would expect me to take my case to court and get justice.

However, Peter's thinking doesn't go along those lines at all. Rather, he argues, when they (and we) endure unfair treatment patiently as Jesus did, God notices. Our uncharacteristic response will run critics and detractors out of ammunition (1 Peter 2:15), and it will put us at the mercy God, the fairest judge of all.

I wonder what the response of the world around us would be if we were influenced more by the example of Jesus and less by the tit-for-tat attitude of our sociey.

PRAYER: Dear God, my natural reaction is to stand up for my rights. Help me to know when it is better to take mistreatment. Amen.

MORE: An Amish example.

The Amish lifestyle is a modern example of refusing to resist evil. In Dale Cramer's novel Paradise Valley, Caleb Bender moves his family to Mexico in order to escape the 1921 Ohio law that mandates he send his children to the public school. Caleb's Amish non-resistance is tested the day he and his daughters meet bandits on the way to taking a load of corn to market.

Fortunately they have Domingo — the young son of a warrior — who talks the bandits into leaving Caleb's daughters alone. After the danger is past, Domingo and Caleb have this conversation:
"I am curious, Herr Bender. Would you fight now?"

Caleb's brow furrowed. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, you say your people do not fight. You told me before that you would not fight even to save your own life. But after what I told you, Herr Bender, would you not kill El Pantera to save your daughters from such a fate?"*

Caleb pondered this for a long moment, staring at his hands....Finally he took a deep breath and shook his head. "No, I would not. Though it cost me an unthinkable price, I could not defy Gott. I would not risk hell."


He shook his head sadly. "We do not live by power or might but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts. It is better to suffer in this brief life than for all eternity. It if is sin to kill, who do I serve by killing? I will accept whatever Gott allows" (pages 218, 219).

What do you think of Caleb's stand? Is this what Peter is talking about?

*The "fate" Domingo refers to is Caleb's daughters being sold to "men who will buy young women and keep them for their pleasure" p. 217.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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