1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
No one that I know of wants to be persecuted. No one wants to be ridiculed or rejected. No one wants to be put into jail or possibly to death. Yet Peter tells us that we should not be surprised when it happens. Persecution comes with our choice to become a Christian.
Why are Christians persecuted? Scripture teaches us that it is not so much that people hate us personally, but that they hate what we represent and stand for. The Apostle Paul wrote – “…all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” (see 2 Tim 3:12) It is the standard of godliness which we represent that turns people against us. Jesus said – “…light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” (see John 3:19-20) Men hate the light because they love the darkness. The light you and I preach and teach is an intrusion to their lifestyles.
Therefore, because of who we are and what we represent, we should not be surprised when we encounter resistance from the world. Rather than be surprised, we should accept it and even embrace it as a part of being a follower of Jesus Christ. Peter tells us to ‘rejoice when we share in Christ’s sufferings.’ Why should a Christian rejoice when they experience persecution?
First of all, we should rejoice because we are worthy to suffer for the name of our Savior. “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” Today the title “Christian” is not looked upon very favorably. In the world’s way of thinking, the title Christian is a synonym for – bigot, hater, or someone who is ignorant and extremely intolerant.
Secondly, we should rejoice because there is a great reward awaiting us in heaven. “Rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” Heaven will applaud the man or woman who was willing to suffer shame for His name.
Thirdly, we should rejoice because God will use our persecution as a way of purifying our faith. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you…” Someone has said that faith that can’t be tested can’t be trusted. It’s easy to stand with a room full of Christians and sing about Jesus on a Sunday morning, but the real question is what will we do when we have to stand alone? Will we run or will we rejoice?