March 17 - 1 Peter 4:12-19

Monday, March 17, 2014

1 Peter 4:12-19 – Don't Be Surprised

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. 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. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 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? And, 

         “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”  

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Peter certainly has plenty to say about suffering in this letter and this time he tells us that we shouldn't be surprised at what is in front of us.

In the 70s, there were little cards that Christians passed around with the question, "If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" That question strikes me now as it did then. If people aren't slandering me, lying about me, teasing me or persecuting for being a Christian, do they actually even know that I am one?  Do I surround myself with people who are safe?  Even my non-Christian friends are safe - they aren't actually non-Christians, they're more like non-churchgoers.

So, what do these passages on suffering for the name of Christ mean to me?  I take this as a challenge to be less like the world and more like Christ. I'm not sure what that looks like on a day to day basis, but I am certain that I need to be constantly aware of my interactions with others.  It's not about a legalistic set of rules that I need to live by, it's about how I actually show love to the people that I encounter from day to day.

1 Peter 4:14 really spells out why this is so important. "If we are insulted for the name of Christ - if we are actually living like Jesus so that people might insult us, we are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on us."

The original Greek in this passage actually means 'pauses over.' This blessing is essentially that which we receive at the end of time. God's glory rests on us when we are insulted for Christ.

The final four  verses (1 Peter 4:17-19) explain our responsibility.  The only way the world will know Jesus Christ is for it to begin with the household of God. We can not be ashamed of the gospel. We must glorify God. We must live our lives so that God is glorified.

To the 'faithful' Creator. Peter constantly reminds us that we are to set as our baseline for living something that is much higher than any of us can hope to achieve.  God is more faithful than we can ever dream of being. Yet, He has committed Himself to us. As we commit to Him and continue to do good, we will make it easier for the ungodly and the sinner to be saved.

Are you distinctly different from the rest of the world because of your relationship to Jesus Christ?

Holiness is not easy, even though we think that it might be.