Jesus Creed

Peter is working out a theology of how to live as a Christian in Roman Empire, as powerless Christians in a world that God loves, and he is no pie-eyed dreamer. “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” Pure recapitulation.
It is simplistic to see here Jesus as Example: as though Peter were saying, “Jesus suffered and you should have seen him; I did; here’s how he did it; here’s a lesson we can learn.” No, Peter’s theology, an emerging one to be sure, is this:
First, the word order of the NIV quoted above jumps ahead. Peter’s order is this: “you fellowship in Christ’s sufferings, rejoice, in order that you might find joy in his glory.” First the fellowship; then the rejoicing. It is not a mental trick; it is not “think joyfully and you’ll find it joyful.”
So, second, the key word is “participate.” The Greek word is koinoneite (“fellowship” or “participate”). Peter’s insight as he seeks to make sense of their condition is this: your sufferings participate in and fellowship in the very sufferings of Jesus. In other words, Jesus lived a life that recapitulated your life, our life, all of human life, and our life is meant to be lived out of his life. He lived the life we are to live. Not simply as an example which are summoned to copy. No, his is the perfect life and our life is a participation in his life.
That is why Peter can urge them to consider the glory that follows — why? Because Jesus’ life ended up in glory; so we are to live in his life and when we do we will end up in his glory.

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