Suffering for Heaven’s Sake (1 Peter 4:12-19)

1 Peter 4:12-19

No one likes to suffer. When given a choice between suffering or maintaining a sense of peace and tranquility, almost all will want to choose the latter. This makes sense. We were never meant to be at home with pain and suffering. Pain and suffering did not exist in Eden (Genesis 2:4-25). Nor will it exist in the New Heaven and New Earth, where there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain (Revelation 24:4). Our hearts naturally desire to be in a state of peace, harmony, and tranquility, where suffering and pain are eliminated.

Yet, the Apostle Peter says something strange, “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you (1 Peter 4:12).” How preposterous! Yet, how much we need to heed his advice.

Peter and his fellow Christians suffered as a minority religion in the powerful Roman Empire. Their different way of living inevitably became a cause of ridicule. There was enormous pressure to compromise, temper, or tone down their religious adherence and Christ-like conduct.

Christians know we live between two poles. The peaceful progress of Eden was interrupted by sin. The state of affairs of the New Heaven and New Earth has not yet come. Those who live as if heaven has arrived on earth and who pray, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven,” will feel the rub.  If you live according to the guiding principles of the Designer, while the world guides itself according to dysfunction and disorder, your way of life and worship will at times not be welcomed.

Take a look at Jesus. Jesus was not only God in flesh, he was the shining light of perfect humanity. He came to earth, walked this guilty sod, and did the very things God would do as a man. Yet, he is rightly called the man of sorrows. He was reviled, harassed, persecuted, and then beat, crucified, and left for dead. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, ought not the members of his household expect the same (Luke 13:24).

When the world picks up swords, we look to the cross. When the world looks for salvation in public policy, we look to our Savior. When the world looks to solve our deepest problems through human achievement, our good efforts for peace and harmony are accompanied by the sobering reality that only Christ will ultimately bring it in. 

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