“….do not be surprised….”
1 PETER 4:12
The apostles left the Sanhedrin,
rejoicing because they had been counted worthy
of suffering disgrace for the Name.
Rejoicing? Seriously? Peter is telling us to expect suffering in its various forms as a consequence of our devotion to Christ. But what is surprising, is that joy can be a by-product of persecution.
Jesus told his disciples to expect persecution. And he proposed the possibility of joy in persecution from the start.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”
“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
This seems counterintuitive. But Peter assures us that joy can accompany trials.
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
1 PETER 4:13-14
John Piper gives six reasons why joy can be a reality in the middle of difficulties.
- Our suffering is not a surprise, but rather a plan.
- Our suffering is evidence of union with Christ
- Our suffering is a means to attaining greater joy in glory.
- Our suffering means that the Spirit of Glory and of God is resting on us.
- Our suffering glorifies God.
- Our suffering is an opportunity for God to display his faithfulness in caring for our souls.
This coming Sunday, Dave Talley will lead us through this sobering passage in 1 Peter 4, reminding us that persecution is to be expected, and that personal, God-glorifying good can result from it.
Be praying that God will be properly preparing us for the days ahead, as the culture we are surrounded with is less and less willing to “live and let live” when it comes to devoted followers of Christ.
And be praying for this Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m., when we gather to further identify with the persecuted church. Pray that we will not be those who shrink back in the face of suffering, but those who persevere and are saved.
Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For,
“In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.”
“But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.