A couple weeks ago one of the teens jokingly told me (at least, I hope she was joking!) that I was an evil dictator. As it turned out, her comment fit right into the lesson, because I was talking about how we deal with authority.
Last night I built on that lesson some more. After welcoming the sixth graders (last night was the first youth group Bible study they were invited to attend), I started picking on one of them.
"Suppose I walked out behind the church, and I discovered that Marissa was out back there smoking a cigarette. Of course, I wouldn't be too impressed with that, since smoking is not just unhealthy, it's also against the rules. So I would probably scold her pretty good." (By the way, Marissa has assured me that she does not smoke, which I'm very glad of!)
"Now suppose instead that I didn't find Marissa smoking -- in fact, suppose that Marissa wasn't smoking at all, but Rachel came up to me and said, 'Doug, Marissa is out back smoking!' So I go out back and, without giving her an opportunity to speak or defend herself, start scolding and yelling at her. After all, I am an evil dictator, right?
"In one of those situations, I'm being completely fair and reasonable, in the other I am not. But how should Marissa respond in these two situations?"
This question is exactly what Peter talks about in 1 Peter:
It's not enough to respond graciously and with submission when treated fairly -- Peter says that the true test of your character comes out in the way you respond when treated unfairly.
And it gets worse...in the next verse (1 Peter 2:21), Peter tells us that we have been called for this purpose -- to bear up patiently under unjust suffering. The question is not: Will I be treated unfairly? -- that's just a fact of life. The real question is: How will I respond when I am treated unfairly?
Peter tells us that in bearing up patiently under unfair and unreasonable treatment, what we are really doing is following in the footsteps of Jesus, who willingly submitted to the most unfair and unreasonable of all punishments -- the cross of Calvary.
How often we say, "I want to be like Jesus," but we certainly don't want to be like Jesus in this regard! Instead, we are likely to respond to unfair treatment with anger and bitterness, instead of with love and forgiveness.