we will not escape what Jesus went through – suffering
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. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For 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? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Therefore, let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
Paul’s admonition to live consistent with the standards of Christ’s Gospel reflects Roman allegiance to Caesar. Roman citizenship was a high calling in life with a loyalty unto death. As Christians, we have a Kingdom citizenship. We’re heavenly aliens (1 Peter 1) who live on earth. Because our deep affinity is with our Lord, we can expect antagonism from the world. Our allegiance to the King of Kings reaps incredible rewards but also comes with a very high price.
Peter picks up on this in his first letter. One of the main points of his epistle is that we suffer in Christ and we suffer with Christ. Jesus, our Eternal Emperor, suffers for natural and spiritual reasons. So too, we will not escape what Jesus went through – suffering. In this passage, we’re called to embrace the affliction we share with Christ and also have confidence about our commitment to him.
Peter suggests we can embrace this affliction when he says, “don’t be surprised” (4:12). Going through fire-burning trials and persecution is quite ordinary. In fact, it is an indication of our obvious affiliation with Christ. It’s something we share. Peter also encourages us to “rejoice” (4:13a). Now, nowhere in the Bible are we called to be masochists, but we can rejoice because we’re gifted with the grace to suffer as we participate in Christ’s sufferings. We rejoice because this kind of suffering indicates we wear his insignia and continue living out his life on his behalf. As we suffer, Peter declares we suffer “without shame” (4:16a). There is no shame in suffering for the cause of Jesus. And, we “glorify God” (4:16b) when we suffer with Christ and radiantly display the weighted beauty of our Lord through our life and our lips.
We all need encouragement to stand, strive and suffer in our commitment to Christ. Today, watch Dmitri’s Song – a fellow brother’s testimony of suffering for our shared cause! Take courage to keep pressing on.
By Don Owsley