Paul has explained how we are to live: as people who show respect to those around us, even to those who disrespect us, mock us, or make us feel on the outside. That is who we actually are -those on the outside. We are the people who no longer participate in the way that the world lives. We are the strange ones (4:4) that live by a different standard. Have you felt on the ‘outside’?
The New York columnist, David Brooks, says that we live within a culture of the ‘Big Me’. This is characterised by statements like: Follow your passion… Don’t accept limits… Chart your own course… Live your Dream… It is easy to hook into this mindset. Why is that?
Peter describes a model that is so different from the Big Me culture. We are to do good no matter what. And when we suffer for what is right, we are blessed (3:14). It sounds a bit like Jesus when he gave us the beatitudes (“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matt. 5:10).
The Gospel culture turns everything on its head – the first will be last… the greatest will be the servant of all… the weak are strong… – and it calls us to walk towards suffering just as Jesus did (4:1). What does this mean for us on a day by day basis?
Jesus is our example, but he is more than that because only he could do what he did. Jesus, the righteous one, died for the unrighteous (3:18). That’s us! And all before us and after us. It is the resurrection of Jesus, symbolised by baptism that saves us. Jesus won the victory! He gave us his righteousness. “And now Christians, … share in the security of belonging to Christ, whose suffering ended in glory” (Thompson).