In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:6-9)
1 Peter was written to Christians who reside as aliens (NAS) who are elect exiles ((ESV) God’s elect, strangers in the world (NIV), pilgrims of the Dispersion (NKJV), God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners (NLT).
My husband, Richard, loaned me his notes on 1 Peter. With his permission, this month’s devotional contains his reflections – excerpts from that teaching – on trials and persecution for Christians. All of the following quotes are from this teaching.
It’s time for Christians to wake up to the fact that we’re not in a playground but a battleground. There is a form of Christianity that is acceptable to the world, a watered-down religion of niceness. But if you take a stand upon the truth of the Word of God, if you live according to its principles, you will pay a price. It could affect your career, your social standing, your relationship with friends and even with family members. But that’s inherent in your calling in Christ who said, “Whoever would be my disciple must be willing to die.”
As believers, we have an address in this world but our citizenship is somewhere else. We’re citizens of the land where King Jesus is in charge and who loves us with an everlasting love. Whenever we face rejection and persecution, we’re strengthened by the knowledge that we are His chosen ones.
God loves you and has a perfect plan for your life. He’s not sitting on a throne of perplexity, wondering how it’ll all turn out. All that happens to you, good or bad, is known to God. But our assurance is that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
When you’re rejected or suffer ridicule for your values, you can know that God is at work in it to make you stronger, purer, more holy. It’s said that refiners of precious metals, gold and silver, heat the crucible until all the impurities have been burned away. They know the process is complete when they can see their reflection in the liquid. God is sanctifying your life, using the fire of rejection or affliction for His purposes though the world thinks it is in charge. And when He can see His reflection in your life, He’ll take you out of the fire.
The result of the Spirit’s sanctifying process in your life is obedience to Jesus. The hardest time to obey is when things aren’t going well. We want to take charge, to do something to get ourselves out of the trial. But you aren’t free to do as you please. In every trial, you must ask, “What does Christ want me to do?” This may go against your natural instincts.
We’re being set apart for obedience to Christ. “You are not your own; you are bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:20). You are to obey, no matter what the world says or thinks. “Why do you call me Lord, and do not do what I tell you to do?” God’s superior purpose in your life is that you obey Jesus.
No matter how many times you’re rejected or attacked, remember, those who reject you are not the final authority. You have been sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb of God.
Whatever our trials, whatever our predicament, we have a new start in life. We face each day with a living hope because in Jesus “all things have become new.” You don’t have to be bound by your past. Jesus gives you a new start every day. That’s shouting ground. Praise God that you’re born again.
…Only Christianity has a God of hope. In Rom. 15:13, Paul said, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope.” Our new birth into a living hope is “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Christianity is responsible for bringing to the world the possibility for real hope.
The reason our hope is living is because it’s based on a living Savior, because it’s founded on the historical reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Hope makes no sense if Christ has not been raised from the tomb. The apostle Paul witnessed to that reality: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living . . . Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also . . . ” (1 Cor. 15:3-8).
Our hope isn’t built on the absence of difficulty, or a positive mental attitude. It’s built on the unassailable fact of the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ. We know living hope because Jesus lives. And for that, we can praise God even in the worst of times.
© Richard L. Blake
Stephanie B. Blake