Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may also rejoice with great joy when his glory is revealed. If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. But if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed but let him glorify God in having that name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God? And if a righteous person is saved with difficulty,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? (1 Peter 4:12-18)
Pastor John’s Notes:
Whenever we suffer for our faith, it should not surprise us. Peter has much to teach us about the blessing in such suffering. Shortly after the Day of Pentecost, the religious leaders of Jerusalem arrested the apostles because of their faith in Jesus Christ. They warned them never again to mention the name of Jesus and then flogged them, which was a brutal beating. Once released, the apostles went their way rejoicing that they were found worthy of suffering abuse for the name of Jesus Christ. Peter was one of these. I marvel at the apostles’ tenacity and wish I could be so bold.
Not so long ago, Christianity was respected in our culture, but things have changed quickly. Now, Christians are often hated and subject to the harshest ridicule. Many have fallen away from the faith, unwilling to pay the price. But those who remain grow stronger and find greater blessing. In many ways, this is better. True Christianity thrives in harsh climates. New leaders emerge, and the people of God grow strong and bold. Great things are in store for those who remain faithful.
Lord, teach me to thrive in a harsh climate. Let me rejoice even in the midst of suffering. Let me learn new skills and sharpen my faith. Make me strong and bold for you. And through my suffering, give me the confidence that my name is written in your Book of Life.