…But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, it is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:20-23
1 Peter was written to Christians who had been scattered because of persecution. Throughout this book, Peter gave a lot of advice, inspired by the Holy Spirit, about how to live in the midst of tough times. In 1 Peter 2:11 he called the believers “sojourners and exiles.” That’s who we are. This world is not our own.
We probably aren’t relocated because of our faith like the first century Jesus followers, losing our homes and jobs. But our society is getting darker, and that day could be coming. The day I’m speaking of is what Jesus followers around the world have experienced for centuries–persecution because of our faith in Jesus.
Peter wrote that if you suffer for doing wrong, you should endure it. But it is another thing to suffer for doing the right thing. This could mean losing much for doing the right thing. And it could mean a lot of other more severe things as the times grow darker and the hatred of Jesus continues to ramp up.
When I was in graduate school at a state university for counseling, in order to finish the Master’s program we all had to write an assigned ‘position paper.’ The questions were ones like, “What, in your view, is the problem of man?” and “How are we different than animals?” My professors were clearly secular and some voiced strong sentiments against God. I knew that I must answer the questions from the Christian perspective, and I also knew it wouldn’t go over well.
One of the professors left a message the minute she read my paper, “In no uncertain terms, get God out of it.” Another professor, my advisor, claimed to have lost my paper. This was before the days of computers. I stood my ground and my paper was eventually was passed through, against the professors’ strong feelings. I’m glad to report a good outcome, but I must be ready to take stands that don’t turn out as well.
In the Old Testament, when Moses sent twelve spies into the Promised Land to check it out, ten came back with a bad report and only two said that, with God on their side, they could take on the giants. It was ten against two, and the ten won out. I’m here to say that it is always ‘ten to two’ when you follow Jesus. We are are vastly outnumbered by those go against God, versus those who look at giants and see a giant God behind them. Matthew 7:13-14 talks about this, saying that the road to following Jesus is hard, the gate is narrow, and only a few find it. ‘A few’ means less than what we even think when it is time to stand up and be counted.
Be ready to suffer for Jesus. He showed us the way and He calls us to follow in His footsteps. Jesus didn’t use deceit to avoid the cross, and when He was treated horribly, He didn’t strike back, or threaten the persecutors. Instead, Jesus “continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.”
We must not get revenge, use the methods of the world to win, or lash out in any way. Instead, we must continue to do good, standing in faith that God is standing with us, entrusting ourselves to God, who judges justly. Don’t be shocked by people hating you because they hate Jesus, and don’t crumble under the push back, recanting your faith.
Don’t be surprised when you are standing alone and the crowd isn’t cheering for you. It’s always ten to two.