1 Peter 3:13-18
Christians have faced persecution since the apostles first preached the message of salvation. Even in regions where there has been a lengthy period of peace and prosperity, there is no guarantee that this will last eternally. And, while we may never face major repercussions for our beliefs, such as imprisonment or death, we have almost definitely all felt the sting of rejection or mockery. Whatever shape the harassment takes, we must all be willing to suffer for Christ’s sake.
Peter wrote to a group of believers who were being persecuted for their faith. His purpose was to inspire and remind people to follow Christ’s example: although being blameless, He suffered in our place to lead us to God. And even though the multitude at the crucifixion insulted Him, He never retaliated aggressively. Instead, He patiently suffered in complete surrender to His Father, ‘entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously’ (1 Peter 2:21-23). When we are mistreated, we can easily fall into self-pity or passionate resentment if we lack this viewpoint. However, Peter reminds us that when we suffer for the sake of righteousness, we are blessed. Not only will we be rewarded in heaven (Matthew 5:11-12), but we may also have the opportunity to gently and lovingly be a witness for Christ.
A wise reaction to persecution stems from a correct knowledge of God’s ways. Unfair suffering, like it was for Christ, is sometimes a part of God’s will for us. But we can have faith in our Father, knowing that He will use any situation for our good and His glory. Philippians 2:9: Christ was elevated to the highest level, and his name is set above any other name, because he humbled himself to the point of dying a criminal death in order to redeem the world from the penalty of sin. As Christ was exalted, so will we who suffer for his sake be exalted with him someday.