“There is no particular virtue in accepting punishment that you well deserve. But if you’re treated badly for good behavior and continue in spite of it to be a good servant, that is what counts with God. This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so that you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.” (1 Peter 2:20-21)
I found myself in a recent discussion where someone posed this question:
“What makes Christianity different than other world religions?”
Among the list of answers, one gripped me most. Christ teaches us to love. And not just those who are easy to love, the world knows how to do that. Most all religions teach caring for the poor and the marginalized. Christianity steers us down the narrow road when Christ commands us to love our enemies.
When His enemies crucified Him, Jesus forgave them, took on their sin, and died in their place. The cross of Christ was the price of his obedience to God amidst a rebellious world.
In doing right, He suffered.
In loving those that others hated, He suffered.
In representing the righteousness of God among people less righteous, He suffered.
The cross was God’s method of overcoming evil with good.
Our cross as Christians is no different. It is the price of our obedience to God’s love. Unwavering love for our friends AND our foes will mean hostility and suffering for us just as it did for Him.
“It is by this that we know what love is,” says the apostle, “that Christ laid down his life for us. And we in turn are bound to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16
May we see clearly the path of suffering that Jesus walked. May we understand the love that compelled Him to do it. Make it so in us.