“Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly…”
This passage goes against what a lot of people in Western Christianity believe. Never mind that we tend to gloss over it in light of the fact that it feels outdated due to the slavery angle. The principles are still understandable, and yet what we tend to teach flies in the face of the principles Peter is teaching. What it agrees with, however, is the rest of New Testament teaching. Jesus Himself taught us that suffering, and suffering for doing what is right, would be something we should expect as His followers.
Our response to suffering, and more specifically to persecution, is still submission. We submit ourselves to God first and foremost. But we also need to have respect, deferment, submission—or basic human decency in our relationships to everyone—be the hallmark of our being. Peter appeals to the very core of our faith—Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world—for his argument.
It is understandable that many believes have another approach to suffering. Their response to the persecution we see on the news borders on hatred. But how else do people react in the face of the killings we are witnessing. Well, for one option, we can look to the people being impacted by these threats. They are courageous, firm in their convictions, and forgiving. They show love for the people who are hating them. They are doing exactly what Jesus wants of them.
Perhaps believers in the west are weak for a lack of testing. They call for swift reprisals, for the government to fight fire with fire. They talk about the “Christian” duty to defend ourselves, the right to arm ourselves and the preparation needed to take out such threats to our safety, the “loopholes” to the thou-shall-not-kills. This strong posture is a weaker position than the radical one taken by Jesus and his apostles. The stronger believers in the world today are those who are being martyred without turning to violence or hate.