“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.” NIV
In verse 13 Peter says:
‘’But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ…’’
This reminds me that Paul’s stated ambition was:
‘’I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings…’’ (Phil 3:10).
Way back, when Paul was still Saul, and he headed for Damascus to persecute the Christians, the Lord Jesus confronted and apprehended him. He questioned him:
‘’Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’’ (Acts 9: 4).
The truth is that because the believer is in Christ and Christ is in them, what you do to him or her you do to Jesus. The Lord is one with His people. The church is His body. He knew that Saul was really after Him. It was Jesus this Pharisee hated; Jesus He wanted out of the way.
The truth is Christ continues to suffer in His suffering people. The sufferings are still Christ’s, but we ‘’participate’’ in them. (This may explain Paul’s rather mysterious words in Colossians 1:24).
Of course, you can suffer because you are stupid, or rude – unnecessarily offensive. If you’ve brought it on yourself, by your own folly, don’t dare call that persecution. It isn’t.
‘’However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name’’ (16).
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we pray today for all our brothers and sisters who are suffering in some form precisely because they are Christians. May they know ‘the Spirit of glory and of God’ resting on them.