We’re reading the first epistle of Peter over two weeks, with brief explanations and applications. The Bible text (NIV 2011) is in blue, so you can tell what bits are Scripture and what bits are my explanations.
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. You knew what you were signing up for when you first followed Jesus: to be marginalised, as he was; to suffer, as he did; to take up your cross daily, just as he took up his cross for us, once and for all.
In fact, this is an opportunity to share in what Christ did. So rejoice!
13 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.
That kind of dishonour is supremely honourable. Redefine it in your mind, so that on Monday morning—when you get to work or school or your kids’ playgroup or wherever—if someone gives you a disapproving look for mentioning you went to church on Sunday, or trots out Richard Dawkins’ latest sound-byte about religion, or just excludes you because you’re one of those God-botherers—that’s a blessing! That’s an honour! That’s a sign that you belong to God!
15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. Don’t think you’re being a martyr for God if it’s just a result of your difficult personality—don’t use this to remain unchallenged in how you relate to others.
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 judgement 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?” As we’ve said throughout this epistle, in the end, you are the one who will be vindicated.
19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. Just as Jesus did.
To think about
What does it mean for you to see your sufferings as “participating in the sufferings of Christ?” How might this enable you to view suffering as an act of worship?