There’s nothing quite like injustice to make us angry. Working for a harsh manager can become unbearable and we must not keep silent on certain issues. How does a Christian respond when they know absolutely they are in the right and their manager is in the wrong?
We are moving further into this code of conduct that Peter is writing. We get to the work place. To something that is hard for us to get our minds around: slavery.
Slavery seems to have been universal at this time. There are estimates of up to 60 million slaves in the Roman Empire. Many were well-treated but many were equally abused. They included not only domestic slaves and manual labourers but educated people as well. The problem Peter was addressing was that it seemed that some Christian slaves were believing that if God made them free then it meant they could run away from their masters and Peter says ‘no you can’t do that.’
“Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2 v 18-21)
Though this is difficult to read because we all believe slavery is abhorrent it does have teaching that we need to apply to our lives, especially in serving/working for people in authority over us:-
- If you are a bad employee and the consequence is punishment then you deserve it and God is not glorified in your life.
- If you recognise that you are actually serving God and not man then if your work becomes difficult because you are unjustly treated then this is a God matter.
- The outworking of revering God is the ability to submit to difficult managers. When others see Christians doing this they are likely to wonder where do they get the strength to do so?
- We will adopt this submissive attitude because our model is Jesus Christ and our lives will point to what He has done for all. He suffered sinful treatment to atone for sin.
- To walk in the steps of Jesus is to respond well to tough treatment even when you’re in the right.