“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
When I was in my later years at secondary school, God helped me to become much more open, and verbal, about being a Christian. Previously, I’d found it easier to keep fairly quiet, but I’d also felt guilty about doing so. Once I became bolder, I had many good opportunities to speak to a number of my peers about Christ. But being mocked in some way, or laughed at, tended to go with the territory.
When I try to imagine the sufferings endured by Peter’s first readers, and when I think about the privations and persecutions many Christians in the world today experience, it’s easy to feel that I’m in a different league; that I’m small fry. But when Peter writes: ‘’If you are insulted because of the name of Christ…’’ (14), I realise I’m included in this. You may feel the same way too. Because anyone who identifies with Jesus’Name (16) in this fallen world is likely to experience some measure of derision being heaped upon them.
Jesus said, ‘’Blessed are you when people insult you…’’ (Matthew 5: 11).
We read in Acts 5:41 how: ‘’The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name’’ (Compare this with verse 16 in today’s reading).
Sometimes, as I travelled home from school, I felt I could identify with the apostles. No, I was not facing imprisonment or beatings etc, but I had a deep sense of fulfilment – of contentment and joy – that sprang from identifying publicly with ‘’the Name.’’ I believe that, as a teenager, I was aware of ‘’the Spirit of glory and of God’’ resting upon me, and that felt good.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you hung publicly on the Cross for me, bearing shame and disgrace.Help me to never be ashamed of you.