One of the issues that our passage today raises is what do we do when our ‘civil rights’ and the glory of Jesus are in conflict? This is a real live dilemma for many of us, or will be some time soon, if it hasn’t been already.
Paul throws a possible solution in that runs counter to everything our world and indeed our own inclinations tell us. It’s true, we have the right to justice, fairness, to retrieve what we have lost, whatever it is. But he asks the question “Why not rather suffer wrong?” He is thinking particularly of the situation where two Christian parties are at loggerheads with each other, both with their own demands. One of the solutions he proposes is that one or both of the parties ‘suffer wrong’. Take the blame, bear the loss, cop the penalty, suffer the shame of being in the wrong, and being seen to be in the wrong. It’s a tough call. One that runs counter to the way our world works.
But it’s not a concept we are unfamiliar with. The One we follow, the One who rescued us from our own sin and stupidity did that very thing in order to secure our rescue. The wrong He suffered was horrendous – being blamed and shamed and punished for things He never did (In fact things we did). Everything in us screams that killing an innocent is totally unjust. But for Jesus, the glory of God and the good of his people over-rode his own feelings and rights, as we see from the monumental struggle in the garden of Gethsemane (“not my will but yours be done”). In so doing, the justice of God was perfectly satisfied and the immense love of God is shown to all.
May God give us the humility and strength to live like the One we call our Lord.