1 Peter 4:12-19

“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. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker.

Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. For the time has come for judgment 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? And “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinners?” Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good.” 1 Peter 4:12-19

So here I am, early on a Friday morning, and I’m reading a word of encouragement written to a group of 1st century Christians who are living through a period of persecution…and I’m wondering when the last time was that I suffered because of my faith.

Oh, I’m not talking about being inconvenienced. There are plenty of things about being a Christian that are not altogether convenient. Setting aside time for prayer or for serving as a volunteer in a worthy cause might get in the way of other things. Sunday mornings keep coming but surely getting up in the morning once a week to attend a corporate worship service that begins at 8:30 AM or 10:50 AM could hardly be classified as suffering.

Budgeting for charitable giving, most of which goes to my congregation, necessarily means that we do without that which we could have purchased…but I’ve never missed a meal. In fact, my problem isn’t that I have never missed a meal but that I eat a bit too much at all of my meals and far too much between them. That isn’t suffering either.

I’ve never been arrested, never been whipped, never been publicly humiliated. I’ve never worried about my church building being bombed as it happened not long ago in Pakistan or some death squad goons interrupting worship to gun me down at the altar as happened to Archbishop Romero. I’ve never been thrown into jail like Martin Luther King, Jr. or burned at the stake like John Huss.

There are places in the world where it is dangerous to be a Christian today. Places where missionaries get kidnapped and beheaded, women and girls get raped, and men and boys get the choice between dying or dying. Because they are Christians who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And there are people in such places who have gone there precisely because they are Christian and they went wanting, as 1 Peter says, “to do good.”

Here in the United States I will sometimes read about people who say that “Christianity is under attack” and I have no idea what they are talking about. All I know, from my own experience, is that the only time that I have any sense at all of being “attacked” is when I say things that I feel compelled to say because of what it means to me to be a follower of Jesus that other Christian people disagree with. Disagreeing with one another is hardly suffering. It doesn’t feel good but it won’t kill us.

Why were the earliest Christians persecuted? Because they were different. Because they gave their allegiance to a power higher than earthly government or other religious systems. Because they shared food with the poor and brought them hope. Because they crossed boundaries of race and gender and class when they gathered for worship. Because they posed a threat to earthly power structures.

Maybe the reason we suffer so little for the faith is because we spend so little time doing things like that.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, you have assured us in your Word and by your own example that suffering for the sake of others is something that happens when we follow you. But far too often we take the easy way out. We keep our heads down. We keep our mouths shut. We go along to get along. We think faith in you is a path to success, comfort, and peace. We run from suffering. Forgive us and prepare us for opportunities to stand with, to stand for, and to stand up despite the consequences. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


3 Responses to “1 Peter 4:12-19”

  1. oma500 Says:

    I am receiving this twice each morning. Could I “unsubscribe” from one and still receive the duplicate?

    Thank you, Fredericka DeBerry

    On Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 7:50 AM, Daily Devotions wrote:

    > revkerry posted: ““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. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s > sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy whe” >

  2. Julie Crosby Says:

    Thank you, Rev. Kerry for a thoughtful and thought provoking post.
    Many of us in the United States hardly know what persecution for our faith looks like. And in our case, the persecution might come from those who are Christians, but don’t agree with us, as you have said. But the body of Christ is ONE, because Jesus proclaimed it. May God bless you and AMEN to this devotion this day.
    Pr. Julie Crosby

  3. Lynn Says:

    Yes, I’m late reading this post but I’m so glad I read it and didn’t delete it! Well said, Pastor Kerry! I am so tired of American Christians whining about how persecuted we are. We have no idea what persecution is! We are indeed, so blessed to be Christians in America. Have you read “The Insanity of God”?

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