READING: Ezekiel 30-32, 1 Peter 4-5
I’m not sure the North American church knows what to do with a text like 1 Peter 4:12—”Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you.” Peter wanted his first-century hearers to know that suffering is almost an expectation in the Christian life. Their response was to be: rejoice as they shared in Christ’s suffering; recognize the blessing of the Holy Spirit who gives comfort in persecution; glorify God as they carried His name; and entrust themselves to their Creator even as they did good (1 Pet 4:12-19). This suffering would purify God’s church as He used the persecution to refine His people.
There is so much here that’s almost foreign to us. Seldom do we think about the truth that suffering is a part of the Christian life, especially when the prosperity gospel is spreading its influence around the world. And, even if we did face persecution, I wonder if we would be prepared to rejoice in it. We’re also almost afraid of the Holy Spirit who would give us comfort. We struggle sometimes with entrusting our lives to God in the good times, so I doubt we would be better prepared to do so in the bad times.
That’s not to say, though, that I’ve given up on the North American church. Instead, it’s just the opposite. I believe in the NA church, despite our messiness. I just want us to train our people to be prepared for any persecution and suffering that may come. Waiting until we’re in the midst of it to teach about it is not the best strategy.
PRAYER: “God, prepare us for these realities of suffering and persecution. Help us to entrust ourselves to You every step of the way.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Ezekiel 33-34, 2 Peter 1