Sunday, October 28, 2012
Suffering in Christ
I Peter 4:12-19 “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for your Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now ‘if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?’ Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” Did you know that suffering in the life of a faithful Christian is part of God’s plan? There is a lot of “feel good Christianity” teaching going around in our culture today that tells us the complete opposite of what scripture actually reveals. If we are living a faithful Christian life and we are obedient and living in God’s will, we will suffer persecution and have trials. This isn’t sugarcoated in scripture and we shouldn’t act surprised when these things happen. Satan doesn’t want us to take a stand for the Truth of God’s Word, so he is going to attack us when we do. Peter is telling us in this passage to expect it, to partake in it, and to REJOICE in it. Why can we rejoice in the midst of suffering? Because we know that it is only temporary. Our home is in Heaven, not here on Earth and we will one day be in a place with no suffering for the rest of eternity. We can joyfully endure ridicule here on earth because it is what God uses to show Himself to the unsaved world. How you react to judgment and mis-treatment is a testimony of Jesus and what He did for us. We also need to understand that the unsaved will suffer an eternal torment in Hell if we do not speak out and share the true gospel with them. Peter also makes it very clear that not all suffering is glorifying to God. A murderer’s suffering is just, so is a thief or other evildoer. Did you notice that he lumps gossip right in there next to the evilness of murder? These things should not characterize a life of a Christian and we shouldn’t look at the suffering caused by our sin in the same way we look at persecution from living a Godly life. You may think this passage out of date or irrelevant to Christians here in America because how much do we really suffer for our faith? Well, have you paid attention in the news lately? Christians who speak out for the Truth get attacked in the media every day. Have you ever been called intolerant, a Bible-thumper, holy-roller, or worse? If not, are you speaking out for the Truth, are you sharing the gospel with the lost? Or are you sitting comfortably in your Christianity afraid to make any waves or upset anyone. God wants us to stand firm in our faith, to grow deep in His Word, and to be different in our daily walk. He promises persecution while we are on this earth, but He also promises rewards in Heaven for those who are faithful to Him. What stand do you need to take this week? Who do you need to tell about the gospel of Jesus Christ?