Suffering and Righteousness

"When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." - 1 Peter 2:23-24

I realized this morning as I was reading this passage of Scripture how formative my Bioethics class was this past fall. Prior to taking this class I really struggled with both the theology of original sin and the series of deaths of young people during my childhood, and adolescents. Original Sin is such a very basic theological belief that is accepted by many across the theological spectrum, yet I struggled to accept it. I think this struggle contributed to my inability to create meaning out of the deaths of so many young lives.

My bioethics class and professor though helped to bring together much of my theological training and life experience to deepen the meaning of the cross and the suffering endured there. I began to understand Original Sin to mean more than just a tendency toward that which is opposed to God and rather an overall brokenness of the world. This was freeing to me, because I saw humanity as being created good, an image of God and God's fellowship with Himself. "Male and female he created them," In the image of God" so the Scripture reads. This I understood and found to be empowering in ministry, especially in situations where I was serving those who had suffered the deepest hurts and felt the most ostracized from society. "You are created in the image of God. All God's creation is good." I still hold this theology, but I now understand the brokenness of the world, which leads to corruption, unjust illness, false accusations, lies, theft, deception, etc.

I am so grateful for that bioethics class! I now read this passage from 1 Peter and it gives meaning to areas of my life where I have felt frustrated and angered. It helps me to connect those places of angst with the suffering of Christ, and to understand that this model, this transformative divine human moment, helps me to see how I am to live and how I am to respond to that which is broken and not of God.

"When they hurled insults..., [Jesus] did not retaliate." It was not a surprise to him. He felt no need to defend. He was secure in the truth of the situation and what they accused did not matter.

"He did not retaliate... he made not threats." How easy it is to threaten in response to an attack. To defend ourselves in words, by relying upon the threat of something bigger than ourselves, whether that be legal action, a fist, or even God's mysterious justice. But, Jesus faced the worse combination of injuries - to self, to identity, to God, and to life - yet, he already knew that Someone bigger had his back. "He entrusted himself to him who judges justly." Jesus knew who was really in charge. Jesus knew what really mattered. And Jesus truly understood the condition of humanity. "He himself bore our sins in the body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed."

We are to live for righteousness. When we threaten or retaliate, we aren't living into that righteousness that has been entrusted to us! To respond in this manner shows a lack of trust in God's righteousness and justice. Why do we do this? Why do we think we must take matters into our own hands? Is God's timing not good enough for us?

"by his wounds you have been healed." Yes, it is now that we must turn to Christ for healing. Healing for the wounds we have inflicted and healing for the wounds we have received. We ask for God to show us how to live righteously and how to respond to the suffering in our life, whether that be as a result of injustice, the brokenness of life, or our own sinfulness and pride. We turn to Jesus, seeing Him as the Master Healer and ask for redemption and salvation. His salve is miraculous!

Comments

ks said…
I've been thinking about this particular topic a lot lately. Reading "Christy" has brought a lot of ideas to light.
Julian said…
Well said.

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