Any true believer will eventually face unjust suffering. If we are genuinely following Christ, there will be seasons when we find ourselves on the receiving end of accusation, slander, or maligning. It may happen in our home, workplace, or school; it may even happen within a church.
These trials are a real challenge. When we objectively lay out the facts before us, we think, “You know what? He had no right to say that! She had no right to think that! They had no right to do that! And yet, here I am. It’s just not fair!”
When faced with suffering, our great temptation is to regard it as a strange misfortune—as totally out of step with whatever following Jesus is really about. Deep down, it is easy to think that everything should be easy when we’re following Jesus. For a while, in some areas of the world (including much of the West today), we can happily go along with that assumption. But then we face a “fiery trial,” and suddenly our life experience proves that being a Christian is not, in fact, easy.
Shepherding the church in his day, Peter encouraged them not to be surprised by difficult trials. Like a parent sitting down to talk with a child before she makes her way in the world, Peter urged believers to anticipate suffering. It wasn’t that at some point they would act wrongly and would therefore receive rightful justice. No, it was that they would suffer simply because of their commitment to Jesus Christ. This was, Peter told them, part of the life of the Christian. It should not be a surprise but an expectation.
After all, as Jesus Himself told His disciples on the night before the world’s hatred nailed Him to a cross, “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Consider the way Jesus was treated in Pilate’s hall. During the interrogation, Pilate said of Jesus—for the first of three times!—“I find no guilt in him” (18:38; 19:4, 6). He was convinced that Jesus’ opponents were trying to manipulate circumstances, and he was confident that Jesus wasn’t guilty of the accusations. But instead of releasing Jesus, Pilate took Him and had Him flogged before handing Him over to be crucified. Every sorrow and every grief that Jesus experienced was unjust. And when we choose to follow after Christ, therefore, we’re called to be willing to suffer as He did.
Are you facing a fiery trial today or reeling from walking through one? Take heart! When the Christian walk is painful, we are suffering in the cause of the one who suffered far, far more for us. We are giving ourselves to the one who gave Himself to us. And we can look forward to the day when the trials are past, when justice is done, and we live in our Savior’s glory forever.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
The Hatred of the World
18“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin,3 but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
26“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
1“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.
Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotionals by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, 2022, The Good Book Company.
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