If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. – 1Pet. 4:14 NIV
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The Christians in the Northern part of Asia were experiencing their own share of what has now become a norm for Christians at that time in history. It had seemed like there was a prize for who could persecute the highest number of Christians as it had become a normal phenomenon in their world and it was the responsibility of Simon Peter, the disciple of Jesus Christ to encourage the Christians in that part of the world to persevere through the experience.
Having used the first three chapters of his first letter to acknowledge the Grace on the Christians in that part of the world and giving some guidelines as to how to maintain a holy lifestyle, he started the fourth chapter with the advise to them to arm themselves with the expectation of suffering since Jesus Christ himself suffered in the body, adding that whoever suffers in the body for the faith is already free from sin (1Jn. 4:1) and such should resolve to spend the rest of their lives living for God rather than lusting after material desires.
Their resolve to reject the worldly approach and lifestyles will always bring them in direct confrontation with the people of the world who see their own lifestyle as the way to go, and so despise the Christian for not joining them in making similar choice to tow a path which they used to operate in, before accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and which they have now rejected. The repercussion of this decision is what manifests in the persecution that they now experience, Simon Peter explained. He further encouraged them to remain in their decision as the world is fast coming to an end and so they should remain alert and of sober mind so they will be able to pray through it – 1Jn. 4:7.
Addressing them as friends, he advised them not to be afraid of the fiery ordeal that has come on them, which seems like something strange is happening to them. If anything, they should be full of joy that they are participating in the sufferings of Christ so that they can be overjoyed when his glory is revealed – 1Pet. 4:12-13. He then went on, in the scripture that is the foundation of today’s devotion, to let them know how much of a blessing it is for them when they are insulted in the name of Christ as that insult brings the spirit of glory and of God on them. What an unusual path to being blessed with the Spirit of glory and of God.
To be insulted will mean to be treated or spoken to in a disrespectful manner or to be scornfully abused. That is the treatment that Simon Peter says the Christian should be happy to experience as it is a path to being blessed with the Spirit of glory and of God. The one that has chosen to live the Christian lifestyle should then prepare for the worst of treatments, and to think that this is a decision that was taken voluntarily, it seems like a personal invitation to be humiliated but then this is not just about the blessing of the Lord that comes with such treatment but the assurance of salvation that the decision brings. Salvation from the great tribulation that awaits all those who have not taken this great decision. Nothing! Absolutely nothing can be too much a sacrifice to pay for an assured life of peace and comfort after this existence, which going by all evidence will surely come to an end.
There is however a caveat to receiving this blessing through this route and which is the reason for the suffering. According to Simon Peter, the suffering that will be so rewarded is the one that one experiences because of acts that were done to enhance and propagate Jesus Christ, as experiencing suffering as a result of being a murderer, thief, criminal or a meddler will not qualify one for this blessing – 1Jn. 4:15.
These four above mentioned acts may be physical but can also be very spiritual as a murderer may not physically take someone’s life but may have rendered the person dead while still alive with acts of gossiping, back-biting and character assassination. A thief also may not have stolen material things but may be enjoying an advantage that by right should not be his/hers. Of course, a criminal or a meddler should expect to suffer if caught, after all criminal acts are not only punishable by laws of men but also by God whilst the one interfering in situations that he/she has not been invited into should expect merited insult. Suffering in situations like these will definitely not be rewarded in the manner described by Simon Peter.
Be prepared to pay any price to defend your decision to accept Christ as Lord and Savior and have no regrets whatsoever for taking such a decision. If anything, give praise to God for being so positioned because judgement will start with the household of God (1Pet. 4:18) and if it will be difficult for personal righteousness to save anyone, then it remains the wisest decision to lean on the one who will provide salvation, not by righteous works but by conferred righteousness that comes through the Grace of accepting him as Lord and Saviour – 1Jn. 4:17-18; Rom. 1:17. May God grant us the strength to weather the storm of persecution and suffering as Christians so we can be found worthy to be saved on the last day in Jesus name. Amen.