Daily Devotion for May 14, 2012
Jesus Washes Peter's Feet, Ford Madox Brown (British) ca. 1856
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
An old hymn sung in the a capella style of the Mennonites.
Prayer for the Morning
Dear Lord, I give you my hands to do your work; I give you my feet to go your way; I give you my eyes to see as you see; I give you my tongue to speak your words; I give you my mind that you may think in me; I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me. I give you my whole self, Lord, that you may grow in me, so that it is you who lives, works and prays in me.
For our Enemies
O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer of Surrender
All to Jesus, I surrender, all to Him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.
Now to Him who has given me grace in accordance with His gospel, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for many ages past, but now revealed and made known by the command of the eternal God, so that all mankind might find the obedience that comes from faith; to the only God, the God of wisdom and truth, be glory forever through His only son, Jesus Christ.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
1 Peter 2:18-25 (ESV)
Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.
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.
He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.
By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Notes on the Scripture
Today, Peter's message begins to get tough. It is easy to follow, but hard to swallow. And yet, his argument is unassailable, because what he asks is for us to act like Christ.
Peter tells us to do what our employers tell us to do and give them full respect, and not only if we have a good boss, but also if we have an unfair, mean boss. He asks us, in effect, to recreate the suffering of Christ in our daily lives.
The reason he gives is that we get no credit for suffering under a bad boss if we have misbehaved. If we profess Christ, however, and our boss mistreats us, both God and our fellow man will see our suffering as an example of Christian goodness.
This is a really, really hard principle to follow, for our pride is inflamed if we think we are treated unfairly. One only needs to be around small children to see how fiercely a human being resents the smallest hint of unfair or partial treatment.
If we indulge ourselves, even a small instance of wrongful treatment by an employer (or other person in charge of us) can become an enraged obsession. Another example of how furious our reactions can become is to follow a dispute involving a labor union. The rhetoric often becomes hateful and violent, and the violence can become physical.
You will probably not hear these verses in church, and if you do, you probably will not hear a sermon supporting and explaining it; for this is completely at odds with the worldly principle of "fighting for our rights". But Peter call on us to fight for Christ, not for our "rights". When we think we must choose between Christ and ourselves, we choose Christ; for by serving Christ, we benefit ourselves beyond measure, beyond anything that this world can give to us.
If you watch closely, you can see examples of a person following this principle every once in a while. In the baseball strike of 1981, Dale Murphy, the most famous and beloved player for the Atlanta Braves and a devout Mormon, could not bring himself to join the strike. (Luckily, both the team and the Players' Association respected his faith and did not put him in the position of crossing the picket line.)