1 Peter 4:12-19; 5:6-11
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" 19Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. . . . 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
History reveals that since the early days of the Christian Church, people of faith have been persecuted. The first Christians faced lions, prison, exile, and gruesome execution. Today in this country we are not likely to be burned at the stake or beheaded because we confess Jesus is Lord. Still, we may wonder whether following Christ is worth the cost or not. Since Christians have and still ponder this notion, God sent His Apostle Peter with these words of instruction and encouragement. Peter is saying, yes, it is tough to be a Christian because you are being stalked by one who is "like a roaring lion" (1 Pt. 5:8) and intent on devouring Christians. It is also tough because we live in a world that persecutes Christians. In Matthew 5:11 Jesus makes clear we will be reviled, persecuted, and falsely accused on His account. Peter writes, "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you" (4:12).
Yet, it does seem strange that God has a purpose by allowing persecutions. Peter is saying these trials are to test the "genuineness of your faith" (1:7). The devil uses these "fiery trials," these persecutions, to get us to deny Christ. "Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (5:8). Peter says as the target of the adversary's efforts, as strange as it may seem, "If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you" (4:14). Peter is not telling us to suck it up and take one for the team. No, Peter is saying to all Christians, the devil uses these "fiery trials," these persecutions, to get us to deny Christ. Jesus declares in Matthew 10:33 if you deny Him, He will deny you before the Father in heaven; then you will be lost forever.
Yes, it is tough to be a Christian because we live in a persecuting world. Even Jesus Christ endured persecution: He was beaten and nailed to the cross. But, by God's grace He was raised from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God so that all who "suffer according to God's will" who "entrust [their] souls to [the] faithful Creator": will never be forsaken. The Lord promises that when you walk through the fire, you will not be overwhelmed, nor will the flames consume you (cf. Isaiah. 43:2). So, yes, even though it is tough, it is great to be a Christian because our God is more powerful than the world and the devil. Our Creator and Redeemer, the God of all grace who restores, confirms, strengthens, and establishes us (cf. 5:10), has promised us, "Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).
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