World English Bible translation
4:12Beloved, don't be astonished at the fiery trial which has come upon you, to test you, as though a strange thing happened to you. 4:13 But because you are partakers of Christ's sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory also you may rejoice with exceeding joy. 4:14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you; because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. On their part he is blasphemed, but on your part he is glorified.
As Peter nears the end of this epistle he follows his own advice to these beleaguered Christians; he concentrates on the essential matters. He wrote this letter because he had heard that these brothers in Christ were beginning to undergo persecution. Here, in this short passage, is the heart of the letter. He has stated this idea several times. Now he drives his message home one more time.
Peter admonishes that they should not be surprised by this trial that has come on them. This trial is a test of their faith. He began this epistle by telling them that this was a test of their faith and that God allowed such test because faith was the most important thing in the world. He reminds them that this is not a strange thing. We are followers of Jesus Christ. If our Lord was tested, even unto death, we should not think it strange that we will be tested as well.
But as we are tested, we are allowed to be partakers of Christ's sufferings. We are permitted to follow in His footsteps. If we desire to share in the blessings of Christ, we must also be willing to share in His sufferings. In the end, when the glory of Christ is revealed, we will be able to rejoice with Christ. Peter writes to these Christians and tells them that if they hold firm to the end, they will rejoice on the day of revelation "with exceeding joy."
He goes on to explain to them that if they are insulted for the name of Christ they will be blessed. In such a case, the Spirit of God would rest on them and they would be glorified with Christ. If we spend all of our time attempting to avoid suffering we may well be trying to avoid the blessing that God is wanting to give to us. When we share in the sufferings of Christ we will also share in His glory.
When people persecute the people of Christ they blaspheme His name. It is a part of their stumbling over the stumbling stone. We become Christ for those who have never seen Him. When we allow Christ to live through us, they have an opportunity to accept Him or reject Him. It is our role to allow Christ to live through us so that other people have the opportunity to respond to Him one way or the other.
If we are to fulfill this role that God has given us, we must change our perspective on suffering. No one wants to suffer. Certainly God does not want us to suffer, either. But, it cannot be denied that suffering was a part of the life of Christ. If we are to share in His life, we cannot avoid it. Nor should we fear it. Suffering is not the worse thing in the world. All men suffer for one thing or another. The worse thing in the world is to suffer in this life in a meaningless way. The worse thing is to suffer and still lose everything in the end.
But we have an opportunity to gain the inheritance of God if we are willing to see our lives from God's perspective. What matters is the end. In the end, Christ will be glorified. Can you live your life with this end in mind? Can you live tomorrow waiting for the return of Christ?
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