The early believers were equally astonished at how they were despised. Jesus warned us, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you” (Jn 15:18). Christians should not be surprised at the behavior of unbelievers; in fact, it should be expected.
The horror of a “trial by fire” must have been terrifying during the time of the Neronian persecution, when Christians were used as living torches in the imperial gardens at night.
Persecution and suffering are part of God’s plan to perfect Christians. Peter wrote, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:6–-7). The phrase “if necessary” means that some may avoid this experience, at least in its severity, but not everyone. Peter has these instructions for us about persecution:
False accusations. “Keep your conduct among the [unbelieving] Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Pet 2:12).
Ridicule. “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (1 Pet 1:9).
Maligning. “With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you” (1 Pet 4:4).
Godly men and women who stand for the gospel have universally been ridiculed, tortured, and killed. Millions have gone through far more than we will ever have to suffer, not to mention what our Savior suffered on our behalf. Dare we ever shrink back from the little that God allows us to suffer for His name’s sake? How will we stand before our Savior with rejoicing if we were ashamed of Him in our little world and brief time on earth?
Paul put it this way: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18). Meditate on how much you are willing to suffer for Christ and why.
“Help me anticipate the denunciation of unbelievers and accept their rejections with Your grace and patience toward them.”
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