I always like singing the song, "Where He Leads I'll Follow," for it reveals to us who is the true example for us to pattern our lives after. Many like to talk about Paul, and what he meant to the early church, and the sufferings he endured for the cause of Christ. But Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "Be ye imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ." (1 Cor. 11:1) Paul was not bringing attention to himself with these words but to the supreme example of Jesus.
Peter also looks to the example of Christ as he exhorts the brethren to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Three times Peter looked back to the example of Jesus as He suffered in the flesh, and suffered unjustly. As Peter speaks of the suffering endured by Jesus, he does so to impress upon his brothers and sisters in Christ the purpose of their calling is to suffer for doing what is right, and not merely suffering for deserved punishment if caught doing something wrong. (1 Pet. 2:19-25)
Peter also uses the example of Christ to show to us where our source of strength is to be found. While many may look to their own strengths, Christ always entrusted Himself to the Father. (1 Pet. 2:23) If we are truly looking to Jesus as our example, we also should entrust ourselves to a faithful Creator, our heavenly Father. (1 Pet. 4:19)
Suffering is never joyful and we certainly don't want to suffer painful events, but there are times when we are called upon to do the right thing, we will suffer persecution in many ways. The right we stand for is not according to worldly things but heavenly, and Peter told the brethren in so doing they will be maligned, as will we. (1 Pet. 4:4)
When we think of following the example of Christ it is usually in the way He loved and served people, and showed how much He cared for them. This too, we should do, but always remember the suffering Jesus endured for us. Shall we not as the mirror image of Christ be willing to do the same for Him? Rodger