11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
13 Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 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. 21 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. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 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. 24 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. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
A Christian’s way of being in the world is a strange business.
A Christian is to understand his exile not as a problem to be fixed but an identity to be nurtured.
A Christian must understand that what is powerful (“the passions that wage war”) is no longer necessarily what is meaningful (we "abstain" from the passions).
We are to honor vicious enemies because the most thing is not that we win and they lose but that they worship Christ with us when he comes back ("the day of visitation").
And that unjust suffering is not just something bad that happens, it is a vocation and privilege (“to this you have been called”).
And to offer ourselves to the world in this way (to abstain, to honor, and to suffer unjustly) is to do something deeper than obedience, it is to depend on Christ’s wounds as the only way forward.
To entrust ourselves to the one Whose Death is His Shepherding, who Shepherds with His Death.
Much of my job, I”m learning, is learning how to offer myself well. Learning how to make my ordinary life an offering. To live, as I hope to do, among the marginalized is to put up with a lot. To be more patient than I expected. To stand with them in their unexpected outburst, unexpected panics, unexpected ups and down. To try to make a table in the wilderness of others.