I planned on writing about suffering. So this week I experienced persecution, first-hand. Sheesh! Why does that always happen?
Peter shares a few common themes through his two books. Today we are going to look at suffering. Specifically let’s read:
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. —1 Peter 4:14
Most of the passages within Peter’s books focus on suffering for our faith. Persecution.
Stay tuned as we will discuss suffering and physical healing next. But today, I believe we should focus on the suffering we endure because of our faith.
It’s obvious when reading through the books of Peter that he was a persecuted man. His feelings and his charge to the churches for endurance are evident. I personally believe that persecution is the only suffering that God truly expects us to experience.
For our SUMite Nation, persecution is very real. We endure a rare and difficult persecution because we face ridicule, shaming, hatred and discord within our home. We also endure persecution in the public realm.
For me, I am equipped to handle the words that come at me from the public realm, well at least, most of the time. When an ugly email arrives or people criticize me for my faith, call me "over the top", a zealot, crazy. I’m really okay. Some of these words have been uttered by close friends and even close relatives. Sometimes it hurts. I take those hurts and their lack of understanding to the feet of Jesus. He always centers me in truth and love. Therefore, I can walk forward, certain of my identity and my purpose and forgive their ridicule.
But it’s different when your faith is mocked and you are insulted or shamed by a loved one with whom you live. That happened to me with week. Ugh!!! It’s pain and it’s hard. I cried. You cry. I get it.
But even through the pain I know I’m blessed. I remain alert and of sober mind. As the enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking to devour me. But I RESIST HIM. I STAND FIRM IN FAITH (truth). And I also know that the God of all grace who called me to his eternal glory in Christ, after I have suffered a little while, will restore me, personally and make me strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:8-10 my paraphrase)
My friends, I believe that persecution is only going to ramp up. Today, believers are unable to be honest about their beliefs in the public realm about many issues which are clear in scripture, gay marriage comes to mind, without being called out as haters. I’m not a hater. I have gay friends and I grieve that they haven’t found their identity in Jesus yet. I grieve that this particular subject brings great grief and discord into our marriages, between our children, and between close family members.
This is where persecution “gets real.” We aren’t afforded the peace and protection that other Jesus followers have within an “all-believer” home. We remain on the front lines of the battle every day, every news broadcast, every image of Bruce Jenner, every article where a bakery is shuttered because the owners hold fast to their convictions. These moments are real flash points in our homes.
Truly, we live in confusing times. The challenges to our faith are growing. It’s difficult to walk this path of righteousness. But, we walk with the King! This current tide of public opinion didn’t take Him by surprise. He isn’t up in heaven nervously tapping His fingers, pondering, O, what should we do? He is brilliant, kind, loving, filled with mercy, and unending love. He will walk us through all of this and He stands as our defender and He will bring us through the fire with a supernatural love that overcomes words of hate, misunderstanding, fear and demonic deception.
This one thing I know, 2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials…..
So, my friend, I will cry with you when the words spoken by a loved one cuts through your heart. I will sigh as I watch the path toward the gates of hell grow ever wider. I will pray with never-failing energy, conviction and passion for you, your spouse, your children, our world. I pray and I pray. I trust and I believe. I stand firm and know that I know, in my knower, God is good. He is faithful to rescue, restore, and heal. Our God is able! Peace and love define Him!
And remember, if you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. How amazing is that?