If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
Perhaps nowhere more clearly is the antonymic nature of Christ’s kingdom seen than in Jesus’ pairing of blessing and the persecuted life. It’s not that we don’t have opportunity to experience it firsthand, though. Over the past several decades, we have seen a systematic attempt to remove Christianity from community life. When professing and committed Christians run for office, people express concern that, if elected, the candidate might allow his or her faith to impact how the duties and decisions of the office would be carried out—and they don’t want that. Many Christians have bought into the concept that Christian faith should be a private matter, something believers keeps to themselves rather than allowing it to influence how they live and what they say and do in public. There is a growing apprehension—even hostility—toward Christianity and practicing Christians. Yet what we might resolve to avoid, Jesus, along with the apostles and early Christians, embraced.
Peter was quite clear—he was no masochist who enjoyed pain and welcomed it for any cause. When we commit wrongs—“as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler” or any other inappropriate behavior on our part—we have no reason to rejoice or find glory in the suffering that comes our way. In fact, Peter said none of us should suffer for such actions, because no believer should engage in such sinful things. But, when we suffer because we have been faithful to the name of Christ, then we are blessed and God’s Spirit rests on us. Suffering for Christ does not disgrace us, but rather brings glory to God as we share in Christ’s name (1 Peter 4:16).
• Obviously, we don’t go looking for or inviting ridicule and scorn. But what are some examples of ridicule and scorn you ought to expect as a Christ-follower? Why?
• How might you seek to love others even as you face these trials?
• Thank God for His willingness to allow His Son to suffer the indignities and anguish of the cross on your behalf. Ask Him to help you be willing to humbly accept whatever sufferings come your way for taking your stand with Him. Ask Him to teach you to rejoice and glorify Him on such occasions, even as you continue doing His will.