Today’s reading: I Peter 1-5.
“How should a believer react to persecution?”
Though American believers have not experienced severe persecution, the story is different for many Christians around the world. Suffering was common for the believers scattered through Asia Minor to whom Peter wrote. He taught them how to live victoriously despite their trials.
Rejoicing despite suffering
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. I Peter 1:6
Peter encouraged the persecuted believers to rejoice because they had a living hope due to Christ’s resurrection, an unfading inheritance in heaven, and God’s power to shield that inheritance until Jesus’ return.
Revealed through suffering
These (trials) have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. I Peter 1:7
Their suffering was not pointless. Their grief was refining their faith, which was more valuable than gold and longer lasting. Their suffering would prove the reality of their faith and bring glory to God.
Reflecting God through suffering
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 2:12
Rather than being shamed by their persecution, the believers would be able to shine a bright light in the dark world – if they lived godly lives.
Rewarded for suffering
For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 2:19-20
Christians receive no reward if they are punished for wrongdoing. But they receive the highest honor, God’s approval, his “well done, faithful servant,” when they endure unjust suffering.
Resembling through suffering
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 2:21
We should follow Christ’s example in suffering. He did so in order to accomplish the will of his father. He suffered so that the kingdom would come on earth. He suffered humbly, but his suffering resulted in God exalting him.
Righteous in suffering
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 4:19
In the press of tribulation, Christians need to remain faithful to God and continue to live in obedience to his commands.
Resisting together through suffering
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 5:8-9
Ultimately Satan controls the persecution that buffets believers. We resist him by remaining faithful, and by uniting our hearts and minds with brothers and sisters who are suffering around the world. Groups like “Voice of the Martyrs” and “Voice of the Persecuted” can inform you so that you know how to pray.
Image by Dominico Morelli