“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)

Peter exhorts believers to persevere in their trials because the nature of the gospel makes persecution inevitable.The people in the world prefer to reject Christ because He calls them sinners and condemns the life lived according to the desires of the flesh. They hate the gospel because it tells them that salvation and peace is not obtained by human works, rituals or religion. This is offensive to us human beings because we all like to think we have control over our own lives and destinies.

Those who hate Christ will hate His followers. The people in the world may think they have the upper hand and may mistreat and persecute us, but we are the fortunate ones: we have been blessed by God’s mercy. Yet Peter cautions his audience to always act as Jesus did in the midst of his sufferings. He loved those who hated Him and prayed on the cross for the forgiveness of those who put Him there.

Consequently, believers must behave with godliness towards those who persecute them. Believers are called to behave with kindness, compassion and goodness to their neighbors despite how they are treated in return. This shows them the glory and love of God and will lead many to Him as was often the case under Roman persecution. Pagans were so impressed by the faithfulness and love of Christians that many became believers. It still works the same way. It is better to suffer because we do not deserve it, for if we sin by reacting with harshness, anger and/or violence we deserve the odium our neighbors feel towards us.