Peter’s words in verses 17 and 18 really struck me, but particularly verse 18, where he says,
And if the righteous person is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and sinner?
The ESV puts it, “…the righteous is scarcely saved…”
Have you ever considered the fact that all people who are ultimately saved are saved by the skin of their teeth? That means Billy Graham. Your pastor. You. And me.
We are not saved because of any good work we have done.
It’s not like God says to some people, “Well, we’ll add to Jesus’ work on the cross to what you have done and see where we are. Hmm…He took care of 80 percent and what you did is worth…40%. Hey, no problem! come on in.”
And it’s not like God says to others, “Well, Jesus took care of 80 percent, and you took care of 20 percent. Wow! That was close! You almost didn’t make it into my kingdom. You should have done more.”
Rather, God looks at us and says, “Let’s see, Jesus contributed 100% to your salvation and you contributed…nothing. Wow! You barely made it! Good thing Jesus took care of it all, isn’t it? Come on in to the Kingdom! Welcome!”
Of course I’m being rather facetious, but you get the picture.
We were saved only with great difficulty. But none of that difficulty was overcome by our own efforts, but by Christ’s when he died on the cross.
And that’s what we need to remember when we go through trials and suffering.
Some Christians go through trials and suffering as Peter’s audience apparently was, and they cry out, “It’s not fair! I don’t deserve this. I’m a good Christian! Look at all I’ve done for you! Why are you letting this happen to me?”
But Peter says, “No. You’re thinking is all wrong. You are only saved by God’s grace. You were barely saved, and that only because Jesus did all the work for you. He didn’t have to save you. But he did. And in so doing, he showed his faithfulness and love to you. So in the midst of your struggles, hold on to that truth. He is faithful. He does love you. So keep putting your trust in him, no matter what happens to you.”
Judgment, Peter says, begins with God’s household. But his judgment on us is not a matter of punishment, but of discipline. And the suffering we go through on earth is meant to help us see that there is more to life than this world. That true life is found in following him. (1-2).
So when we do suffer, let us not complain. Let us not cry out, “It’s not fair! I deserve better.”
Rather, let us “entrust ourselves to our faithful Creator while doing what is good.”