The Bible tells us about God’s just character in defending the helpless and yet recognizes the injustices in our world today. In 1 Peter 2:18-21, Peter, writing about Christian slaves said it is commendable to suffer unjustly for doing good than for wrongdoing, does this mean we should not fight against injustices done to us and others?
The context in which Peter is writing and ours is similar but different in some ways. At the time, Christians were the minority in the culture and were often maligned, they had almost no rights and were hated by the larger society, that is the Roman culture but more so, by Jews. Christians at the time did not have an effective system of justice available to them and Peter is ultimately saying that ‘even when it seems like things are not working out for you, God is still at work and can use your suffering to actually draw people to yourself’. He uses the example of Jesus Christ in 1 Peter 2:21 that says “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps”
Peter uses Jesus Christ’s sacrifice as a model for what God can actually accomplish through our suffering in such circumstances. This is very different from being in situations where you can fight against injustice but don’t do anything about it. In fact, Paul tells slaves in 1 Corinthians 7:21, that if they can ‘gain their freedom’, they should do so. The Bible recognizes that God is just and there are times things are not going well for us, if we are in such positions where we can seek justice against the wrong that we have experienced, we should go all out for it, but if otherwise, like many Christians in Northern Nigeria or other places in the Middle East like Qatar where you can’t fight against some of the injustices done to you, Peter is then saying. ‘find strength in what God can accomplish through your suffering’
In the case where somebody has experienced injustice and there is an opportunity to seek for redress but people or the person then says, “Let us leave it for God”- that should not be our typical response. If we are able to fight against injustice, we should go for it, particularly where it concerns other people and the injustice done is systemic.
However, we must exercise caution in how we fight injustice. When Jesus was arrested and Peter took out his sword and cut off the soldier’s ear, Jesus Christ rebuked him (John 18:10-11). Peter was trying to fight against what he felt was unjust, but he was doing it in a way that was against how Christ wanted it. But, that did not stop Jesus Christ from defending himself when he was asked questions in the presence of Ceaser. Jesus answered the questions firmly, saying he was not guilty of the accusations laid against him.
As Christians, we are called to fight against injustices in a manner that is pleasing to God, by speaking for the oppressed and using our various influences to right the wrong done to others as we are told to in Isaiah 1:17; “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause”.
Answered by Emmanuel Oset and Francis Chigbo, leaders at City Church, Lagos