12 ¶ Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
Peter tells these Jewish Christians not to shocked at the persecution they are apparently about to suffer. Remember, he already said that the end times were upon them. These verses would be comforting to many Christians in today’s world. They may not sink in to American Christians because we have gone along so easily with the culture we don’t know what persecution is. Americans honor the civil religion faithfully, enjoy the same entertainments, and the same lifestyles as nonbelieving Americans so there is really little difference in our daily behavior from an atheist who lives next door. Christians in the first century had to and in other countries today have to establish their identity by refusing to go along with the world and are subjected to horrible persecution like murder, rape, loss of employment, forced migration and other things because of it. An American Christian thinks they’ve been persecuted because someone said something unkind about them or to them. It is absurd. The most real persecution a Christian receives today will probably come from their own church. Churches that are abusive are more common than persecution for your faith, in America.
Peter warns them about a fiery trial they will face and tells them not to be shocked by it, as if it was not to be expected. When suffering for Christ, they are partaker’s of Christ’s sufferings and will have joy when Christ’s glory is revealed.
Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
2Corinthians 1:3 ¶ Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
If we are criticized or threatened for the name of Christ we should be happy because on the part of the person doing the harm Christ’s authority and even existence is challenged but on our part Christ is glorified and that is what is important.
Peter insists that these Christians not let themselves suffer reproach for being a criminal or even a busybody. His list runs the gamut from a murderer to that nosy pest. So, it is clear that we get no approval from God just because we make ourselves obnoxious to others. We certainly cannot cry foul and claim persecution as Christians when we are arrested for criminal behavior or reproached for being a nuisance. Let not others condemn us by saying, “those people are notorious criminals,” or even, “those people are just about sticking their noses in other people’s business.” The reason many Christians have a bad reputation is not due to their devotion to Christ but due to the fact that they have confused just being a stench in everyone else’s nostrils with being hated because their very lives convict unbelievers of their lost state. If you’re persecuted because you are just a pain in the neck or a menace to society don’t count it as a badge of your consecration.
But if you suffer as a Christian with the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22 exhibited by your every word and deed then do not be ashamed but give glory to God for your suffering. Judgment begins with Christians first which is why America is in such disarray and failing so miserably in so many departments. It is a casualty of Christianity and God removing His hand of protection and letting national and personal sins run rampant more and more with each generation. This is because those calling themselves Christians have turned their back on Biblical Christianity and adopted some kind of prosperity gospel or an atheistic Ayn Rand worship of Self or, sadly, even worship of the state.
If judgment begins with us, then just think of the fate that awaits the ungodly who reject Christ’s free gift of salvation. One could say, “you know man, you may not like Christians. True, we’re often not any better acting than an atheist morally or ethically. In fact, we are barely saved by God’s grace, hanging onto the thread of His mercy. But, we are His! Just think about how bad it is going to be for you who have completely rejected Him.” You, masochistically, making yourself suffer for Christ, by the way, by denying yourself food, dressing pitifully, and denying yourself things that God has given you, as you walk around as if in mourning is not suffering for Christ.
When we suffer it should be according to the will of God, committing our souls to Him. In Paul’s instructions to the Thessalonians, there was this sub-theme about Christ’s faithfulness, as well.
1Thessalonians 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
16 ¶ Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 19 Quench not the Spirit. 20 Despise not prophesyings. 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
23 ¶ And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
It’s not about us. It’s about Christ. It is Him we should depend on. He is faithful.
1Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Commit your soul to God. You will be persecuted if you do and you will not have to poke anyone in the ribs to make it happen.