Suffering for Christ
Today’s Text: 1Peter 4:12-19
Note the similarity between this section and 1:6-9; 2:19-25; 3:17-18; 4:1-2.
In this section, Peter is giving comfort and understanding to those who are facing trial and suffering for their faith. Remember that in that place and time, a Christian could be called upon to suffer to the point of death for his faith, but they could also be persecuted in lesser ways. They could be beaten, harassed, and excluded from employment, business and buying necessary goods including food for their families.
12: This verse may be the most important for us to understand, as Peter approaches the topic as something that we should have expected all along. You might first think that they should have expected it because of the place and times in which they lived… which would be true. Yet, the real reason for this expectation is much deeper than culture and country! For this reason, we too should expect some form of opposition. The key component is the fact that we live in a world that is altogether in opposition to Christ. This is not simply because the world isn’t Christian and doesn’t want to hear the Gospel… these are only symptoms; not the disease itself. The disease is rebellion against God, which has existed in humanity since the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and before that amongst the fallen angels of Satan. When people heap insult and revision upon Christians, they are not simply reacting to our message or our way, but rather they are fighting (unwittingly in most cases) a spiritual war between God and Satan. This is the front line of battle.
13-16: If you are attacked because you have modeled the behavior and life of Jesus, then you should be glad; you have done something right. When Jesus returns, those who suffer for His cause will be the most joyous of all. You should not be ashamed or hang your head if this happens, but rather you should be thanking God for seeing fit to allow you to share in His suffering for a time.
17-19: God will allow His people to be tried and tested, this is true. Consider that if it is difficult for those in God’s own household, how much worse it will be for those who refuse to follow Him. Count it a blessing that we receive trial and testing now, rather than eternal punishment later.