Monday, March 10, 2014

Suffering and Submission

I don't celebrate Lent. For that matter I don't celebrate any holidays in a religious fashion. I have to admit to being more familiar with the casual giving up of chocolate (or some other small thing) than the more serious 40 days of limited fasting.  Nonetheless I find Lent fascinating. It's the only season of the year where people embrace the concept of suffering with Christ, an idea that permeates our New Testament.  Peter urges his diverse group of Asian Christians to accept their suffering not just as one aspect of an unfair world but as a way of following of Christ (1 Peter 2:21).

Let that sink in a minute.

When I think of following Christ, becoming like Jesus, I think of stuff like reading my Bible everyday, saying my prayers more earnestly and with more concentration, and sharing the good news with my friends and neighbors. Don't you? Yet Peter spends much of his book discussing how suffering innocently, silently, trustingly is in step with the life of Christ.

I knew that before I started reading 1 Peter for these blog posts.  But as I began to soak in the text something disturbing became apparent to me.  Check this out.

In the end of chapter 2 Peter discusses obedience to authority, how the potential abuse of that authority can lead to innocent suffering, and how Christ suffered innocently too. This is convicting because it suggests that when our government is out of control we still need to submit quietly (something my Facebook wall attests we don't do now, let alone when we are truly suffering from tyranny). Peter comes back to the topic of mimicking Christ's suffering in the middle of chapter 3. If we suffer innocently but righteously (just like Jesus), Peter says we may have the opportunity to share our faith with those who question our good attitude.  So here's the question. What topic is sandwiched in the middle of these two sections on how to suffer innocently?

How to be a good wife.

Peter begins his discussion with this telling phrase: "In the same way" (1 Peter 3:1). If you're wondering "in the same way" as what, look back a verse or two and you'll see it is Jesus' innocent suffering that he has in mind. Surprised?  I certainly was.
Here's the rest.

"In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external--braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.   For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear. " (1 Peter 3:1-6) 

Peter says that women follow Christ in submission.  When he was hauled in front of authorities, secular and religious and unjustly accused, he was silent, meek, and submissive (like a lamb to the slaughter).  So Peter says, when we, "in the same way", are quiet, gentle, chaste and respectful (even in innocent suffering) we are imitating the beauty of our Savior. But let's be honest. When we start to suffer as a wife (in truth or in a moment of dramatic self-pity) is our first reaction to be gentle, respectful, quiet and innocent? Take this example...

Busy all day (work, kids, cooking, errands, chores) you slide into the house ten minutes ahead of your husband.  You send the kids to start their homework in their rooms and start to pick up the breakfast dishes that were left in a rush on the kitchen table.  Your husband, in the midst of a miserable day himself, comes in, sees you and bellows at you to get your lazy @@@ in motion and get him some dinner.

What do you do?  If you are quiet, gentle, respectfuBrooklyn Museum - The Scourging on the Back (La flagellation de dos) - James Tissotl, chaste and innocent, you are farther along in your spiritual walk than me. Peter's reminder is as potent as it is necessary.   Once up on a time there was an innocent lamb, a good and gentle guy, who never did anything but try to help people.  Those people spat on him, struck him, laughed at him, stripped him naked and hung him on a cross. He's the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls and he's the Rabbi in whose footsteps we follow.  The force of the passage is simply this:  mimicking Christ's attitude of quiet submission in our marriages, no matter how wonderful or how difficult is what it means to be a Christian wife. 


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

No comments:

Post a Comment