Today’s reading was 1 Peter 4:12-19
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And,
“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
If Christianity should ever lead us to a place of suffering, this should not be a surprise to us. It was predicted almost 2000 years ago that those who hold the name Christian should expect persecution and insults. At first, this sounds totally negative. That is, until you read on and start to realize what blessings can come from receiving this sort of treatment.
According to Peter, if we are insulted because of the name of Christ we are blessed and the spirit of glory and of God rests on us. It is rather counterintuitive to consider persecution and insults as a recipe for joy, but there it is.
In today’s society, we see that Christianity is under attack from various sources. There are terrorist groups such as ISIL who long to create an Islamic caliphate, under which it would be a capital offense to be a Christian. In America, so-called civil liberty organizations have attempted to remove the symbols of Christianity from our culture, to ridiculous extents such as removing a manger scene from a town center. In Texas recently a group acting under the authority of the mayor requested pastors to submit transcripts of this sermons so that they could be checked for anti-homosexual bias. In Coeur d’Alene Idaho a Christian couple who run a wedding chapel are being sued for discrimination for refusing to marry homosexuals.
The tide of culture is definitely against Christianity but this should not be a cause for concern. This is no different than when Christianity began in the first century. And rather than be alarmed, or concerned about being insulted or persecuted, we should rejoice that people are actually noticing when the values of Christianity are contrary to those of the prevailing society. By far the greater danger to Christianity is when we are indiscernible from the culture around us. The call for us as Christians is to be distinctively different, and that will provoke a negative response.
So if ever we do suffer for the fact that we are a Christian, that we dare hold to Christian values, we need not be afraid but just commit ourselves afresh to our Creator and continue to do good.
(For the video clip of that most excellent insult in the picture above, go here)