12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And,
“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”[a]
19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
Suffering for Being a Christian
The Guardian reported an attack on Pakistani Christians in Peshawar. The Guardian is a reputable British newspaper, so this event is not being exaggerated by Christians to create a media scare.
What is your reaction to this kind of persecution? To read more of these kinds of stories, visit Voice of the Martyrs at persecution.com
We are unaware of so much suffering for being a Christian. We see the faith as something of a luxury that we add to our lives. Father, help us to care for our persecuted brothers and sisters in the world. Let us not protect ourselves from their stories. help us to enter into prayer to share in their sufferings.
- How did ancient Christians suffer?
- How does Peter encourage them repeatedly in his book?
- How do modern Christians suffer?
- How do suffering Christians receive encouragement from their brothers and sisters in the world?
- What would you want people to do for you and your church in the weeks following a suicide attack?
(Though I can’t imagine what that would be like…) I think if it had been my church where the suicide bombing had happened, I would definitely want people to be praying for us like crazy. I also would want us to keep meeting with whatever remaining people from church were alive. It would be at a time like this when we need each other all the more; this is not time to “abandon ship”! I would want people around me and yet time alone too. I’d want a listening ear, but also for someone to speak truth compassionately and clearly to me. I’d want a leader to look to for support and for a concrete example of how to respond. I imagine we’d all be leaning on each other rather heavily, calling out to God..
I truly appreciate the ministry of Voice of the Martyrs. They give the opportunity to be informed and to pray diligently for our brothers and sisters in Christ that are being persecuted and martyred. I think that as a whole, the American church has neglected its time, prayer, resources, etc. We should not only pray for them but remember them and reach out, advocate for them, or simply help them. We often focus on what is going on in our local church body and our needs, and we barely notice (let alone identify) the church down the street.
I love that Peter does not tell Christians to dwell on how unfair the persecution is, or to find a way to get around it. He gives a purpose for the suffering and says its blessed. The world cannot squelch our joy from the Lord!
We are following God, we are obeying Him and trusting in His love…and this happens? Are we wrong? Should we give into the pressures around us because it appears hopeless and foolish to cling to a faith in which God allows our suffering and those around us hate us…
This is what I imagine may have been going through many of these ancient believers’ minds. The struggle with evil, with bad things happening to those who are following God and loving others–this is not a new struggle. The depth of emotion which those in Pakistan must be feeling is beyond what most in America can really understand. Their theology is put to the test of extreme pressure. They are filled with grief over the loss of loved ones, they are probably discouraged at the seemingly hopeless situation in which a government and majority population views them as deserving punishment and/or death. Peter’s words to the ancient Christians ring true today as they did back then. He continually reminds his recipients of their future vindication and their present identification with Christ. Jesus suffered for doing good and died a terrible death for those who had sinned against Him. If our master suffered then we too will suffer because the world is filled with those who serve the devil whose goal is to destroy. The more we are like Christ the more our suffering will be a result of our embracing of that reality. Everyone suffers. Some will suffer much more while on this earth and others will suffer more in the judgment. This is what Peter is reminding them. If we can bear the sufferings of now by keeping Christ and future judgment in mind then, unlike the unbeliever, we will enjoy eternal bliss with God while the enemies of God will be judged and condemned.
Oh how I long for justice and my heart is grieved by the blind evil we see so often around us. Until justice is served I hope I can be God’s instrument to remove the scales from blind eyes and show people the reality of life…
The ancient Christians suffered societal pressures for most of the time from Christ till Constantine, save for two periods of active and intense persecution under Nero and Diocletian. The threat of death or being ostracised from the community.
When Christians suffer, they partake in sufferings with Christ. There is something beautiful being identified with our savior who suffered with us. As Bonhoeffer said, “Only the suffering God can help.” Identifying with Christ in His suffering is comforting, we are not alone in our times of suffering.
Modern Christians suffer from persecution of all varieties, from being made fun of in the marketplace to the horrors of suicide bombers in Pakistan, Syria and Egypt.
Encourage the brothers and sisters with the Gospel: Jesus came to us so that we could brought out of all of the evil in the world and worship Him. He assumed our sinful flesh and lived a life without sin and put death in its grave. Jesus understands our suffering and gives us the strength to endure–He endured and we are united with Him!
I guess that I would want the church to do the same for me, with prayer and physical support to help the pain of loss.