1 Peter 4:12-19
2 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory,[a] which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.[b] 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief-maker. 16 Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. 17 For the time has come for judgement to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end 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 sinners?’ 19 Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good.
This letter was written in the context of Christians facing persecution for their faith. Persecutions in the New Testament began shortly after Jesus’ Resurrection with Stephen and it continues today. Peter knew that the saints in the Roman Empire would be facing persecution, so he shared with them five principles about suffering. These same truths still apply today. In our passage we will learn about: 1. The certainty of suffering. 2. The purpose of suffering. 3. The attitude to suffering. 4. The cause for suffering. 5. The reaction to suffering. Peter cares deeply for the believers. He loves them. He has a heart of compassion for them. It is this empathy that motivates him to tell them about the suffering that they should expect. He tells them so that they will be ready and prepared when they face it. Not if they face it, but when they face it. These verses are clear that believers who are living for God should expect persecution. God did not want the believers in the first century to be surprised and He doesn’t want you to be surprised either. The popular teaching today is that God wants believers to be rich and live a smooth, healthy life and we call this gospel prosperity gospel. It is partial truth but not all of the truth. Yes, God blesses us with wealth and good health but this does not mean that we don’t suffer. It does not mean that the poor and suffering people are not God´s children. Why do we have to suffer as children of God? Just as silver and gold are refined by fire so we are refined by the fiery trials, suffering, or persecution we may face. Suffering can remind us to be humble. When everything is going well and we are successful and our life is smooth, it is easy to become prideful and start to take credit for the good things in our life. Suffering reminds us of our dependence on the Lord. In times of suffering, we realize that we cannot solve our problems ourselves. Testing reveals the real faith of real believers. God did not test Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac to find out if Abraham had faith or not. He did not test Abraham to figure out the limit of Abraham’s faith.
Takeaways for Today
1. True children of God experience persecution as well to test their faith
2. Not all suffering is godly, they are those who suffer for the sake of evil and this is not the suffering that is being encouraged in today´s verse.
3. Suffering does not mean the absence of God´s love or lack of care, it is a period of testing and strengthening of faith