Today’s passage is going to make you feel uncomfortable. I’m not gonna lie. I had some trouble getting my head around the fact that Peter wasn’t preaching civil disobedience and told slaves to be obedient to their masters. But remember that there’s always a context to the Scriptures. Even though we have a tendency to distrust authority given our cynical 21st century mentality, we still look towards our leaders for guidance and assurance.
First of all, think about the audience Peter was addressing. He was talking to Gentiles who didn’t have the power to change the society that they lived in. Strangers in a strange land. Slavery wasn’t the cruel, harsh practice that took up half of our American History books, but it wasn’t exactly a picnic either. But instead of going against the law and risk everyone’s lives,
Peter asked his audience to make the best of a bad situation.
Or to use a more modern phrase
“Bloom where you’re planted.”
We may not be slaves anymore, but we can all relate to the idea of enduring suffering. We have a choice on how we can deal with it, though. We can complain and whine or we can offer our sufferings to God who understands all too well how we feel.
One verse that particularly stands out to me is
“As servants of God live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil.” (1 Peter 2:16)
Just because we’re living in a society where we aren’t slaves and have the freedom to do whatever we want doesn’t mean that we act like a bunch of party animals. Nor should we act like entitled brats that think that we should get everything that we want or say whatever we want because it’s a free country. Instead, Peter says
“Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.” (1 Peter 2:12)
So no matter who’s in charge on Earth, we ought to live our lives in as God wants us to lead them.This doesn’t go against the idea of civil disobedience. A great example of someone who practice civil disobedience while still accepting the authority at the time was Saint John Paul II. Pope John Paul II never got in trouble for breaking the law. In spite of Poland being under Nazi, and later on Communist regimes, Pope John Paul II, or Karol Wojtyla as he was known at the time, conducted himself as a dutiful civil servant. He worked in a rock quarry during World War II, which saved him from being sent to a concentration camp. When he became a bishop (and later archbishop) during the Communist regime, he made a joke of the fact that he was constantly being spied on and followed. In spite of the fact that he constantly defied authority, he never outright broke the law. In other words, he bloomed where he was planted.
Eventually, God chose Karol to become Pope John Paul II and the Polish Pope became a great influence in the fall of the Communist regime that suffocated Poland and many other parts of the world.There is a time to rebel and there is a time to accept authority, but ultimately follow God above all else.
If you want to know more about the Church’s stances on social situations, I recommend reading Compendium on Social Justice.
Today’s featured song is “Greater” by MercyMe. No matter what kind of suffering we have to endure in our lives, remember that God is greater.
Keep fighting the good fight, dearest sisters in Christ!