Suffering–reflecting on I Peter and Jon Foreman

January 11, 2010


Jon Foreman’s Winter EP was the sound track for my journey through the snow to buy dinner this evening.  As my feet took me along the familiar, though obscured path, my mind was turning over our present study of I Peter.

Friday a friend and I spent a couple hours reviewing the book and our individual studies of it searching for its meaning.  Most prominent of I Peter’s themes were suffering/trials/subjection and identification with the suffering Christ.

The suffering Christ–suffering, which not only saves us (which is why his blood is precious–I Pe. 1:19) it also ransoms us (I Pe. 1:18) and births us (I Pe. 1:3, 23), relocating us and our identity in Christ.  He is a living stone; we are living stones (I Pe. 2:4-5), God is his Father; he is our Father (I Pe. 1:17), etc.

As Peter brings home the point that our identity is found in Christ, he demonstrates how Christ’s life is given as an example for his followers to emulate.

These last few days I’ve been reflecting on this personally.  How do I follow this?  As he says in 2:21-25:

For to this you were called, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving an example for you to follow in his steps. He committed no sin nor was deceit found in his mouth. When he was maligned, he did not answer back; when he suffered, he threatened no retaliation, but committed himself to God who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we may cease from sinning and live for righteousness. By his wounds you were healed. For you were going astray like sheep but now you have turned back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Christ is my example.  He never sinned, he never lied, he never answered back–but these are not the only marks of Christ which follow Peter’s exhortation to “follow Christ’s example.”  It seems he is also directing Christ’s followers to bear the sins of others in Christlike manner, to lead others to “cease from sinning” through bearing the burdens of others.

So, back to my walk.

Trekking along, with Peter’s challenge to bear the sins of others and Jon Foreman’s song “Somebody’s Baby” I got to thinking about injustice and suffering, when I had an epiphany.

Bearing suffering that I have not earned (“For what credit is it if you sin and are mistreated and endure it?” I Pe. 2:20) is always resultant from sin.

On the one hand, refusing to retaliate when you are mistreated is bearing the sins of other people.  On the other, what would bearing the burden of other people look like?  What about bearing the sins of the homeless like in Foreman’s “Somebody’s Baby”:

She yells,
“If you were homeless, sure as hell you’d be drunk
Or high or trying to get there or begging for junk
When the people don’t want you they just throw you money for beer”
Her name was November she went by Autumn or Fall
It was seven long years since the Autumn when all
Of her nightmares grew fingers
And all of her dreams grew tears

(chorus)
She’s somebody’s baby
Somebody’s baby girl
She’s somebody’s baby
Somebody’s baby girl
And she’s somebody’s baby still

She screams,
“Well if you’ve never gone it alone
Well then go ahead, you better throw the first stone”
You got one lonely stoner waiting to bring to her knees
She dreams about Heaven, remembering hell
As the nightmare she visits and knows all too well
Every now and again
When she’s sober she brushes her teeth

(chorus)

Today was her birthday, strangely enough
When the cops found her body at the foot of the bluff
The anonymous caller this morning tipped off the police
They got her ID from the dental remains
The same fillings intact, the same nicotine stains
The birth and the death were both over
With no one to grieve

(chorus)

Perhaps knowing and relating to the needy as “somebody’s baby”, when that Somebody is your Father, is the essence of bearing the sins of others.  Perhaps our shared Father is what leads me to bear the burdens of others by putting off my false pretense and aspirations to overcome my fellow man.

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One Response to “Suffering–reflecting on I Peter and Jon Foreman”

  1. Mom Says:

    Thoughtful post, Joey, reminiscent of times we have shared. Thanks for posting, it helps.


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