1 Peter 4:12-19: Three Principles for Christians Facing Persecutions
October 23, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Peter has been describing how Christians should behave when they are “in exile.” What are the guidance and principles for living as a Christian in a world and culture that is not friendly towards the gospel? Peter has been addressing all of that. But in this passage he takes the situation a step further. What if the culture and world around are not just unfriendly towards Christians but are also actively opposing Christians, even persecuting them? How then should we behave? Peter gives us three principles for Christians facing persecutions.
First, do not be surprised. One of the most damaging aspects of persecution is when it seems to come as a surprise. We ask why? Why me? Why now? Why this? It is as if our expectations are not being met. Surely, if we are following Christ, we should not experience so much difficulty. It is therefore so important that when we present the gospel, we present also the real cost of following Christ. There is far greater cost to not following Christ! But nonetheless, when you follow Christ, you are going against the principles of this world order and therefore you are going – in one way or another – to meet opposition. Do not be surprised. Nothing strange is happening. (In fact, in some ways it is stranger when we are not experiencing persecution!)
Second, rejoice. How can we rejoice when we face persecution? And yet this is the consistent teaching of Scripture. Jesus taught the same:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
And Peter confirms this teaching with his own exposition of it in these verses. It is time, he says, for judgment to begin with the house of God. We are in the time when the opposition that people have to Christ is going to be experienced by Christians; and if that is bad, think how much worse it will be in eternity for those who do not know Christ. But we who are Christians are to rejoice, as a conscious choice, when we participate in the sufferings of Christ so that we may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
Third, commit to do good. Rather than run away from what is moral when we are facing persecution, we should run towards what is moral and good and right. Why? God is faithful. Our Creator is faithful. We can trust him. The world, though fallen and though in opposition to Christ, is still the creation of the good Creator; and therefore, in most cases, at most times, moral and good behavior as defined by the Bible will still be rewarded. Trust God when that is not the case. And in all cases commit to continue to do good.
“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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