As some of you have been missionaries, you may find this related in your mission field. Last week there were two young Chinese missionaries who are in their early 20s were killed in Pakistan. Brothers and sisters, may I please ask everyone to mourn for ten seconds together? While remembering them in prayers, I found it sometimes hard for me in U. S to imagine such sufferings because I don’t see much sufferings. Christians are so used to the comfortable life here. But Peter said something seemed unrelated to U. S today, in 1 Peter 4:12-13: 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. In one sentence, Christian should rejoice in sufferings. Wait, wait, wait, Peter, are you serious there are sufferings being a Christian? Shouldn’t being a Christian bring only love, peace, joy like a fountain? I was told that Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. So where do the sufferings come from? Shouldn’t God protect us from all the sufferings in this life and be our shelter all the time? Why do we have to suffer? What to rejoice about if we suffer?Here are three teachings Peter is going to communicate with us here,
Christians should not be surprised at trials
Explanation: As Christians, we are the light of this dark world. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There must be conflicts between us and this world just like light versus darkness.
Validation: We all know that in some parts of the world, Christians are persecuted. They cannot worship God in public. They are arrested for claiming faith. They are killed because they are Christians. In 2016, there are 90,000 Christian missionaries killed, which means in every 6 minutes, there is one missionary killed.
Application: But sufferings do not only stay on mission fields. Even in U.S today, we cannot bring the Bible and preach Gospel to the children in many public schools. We are so fearful to tell people that same sex relationship is sinful. We don’t dare “label” some terrorists as Muslims. Last but not least, we are not being thankful to God for this opportunity that we can worship Him freely in this country. There are trials everywhere in everyday life whether we notice or not. If we are true Christians and we do not suffer from these trials, we should be surprised.
However, the Scripture indicates that Christians should rejoice while partaking Christ’s sufferings.
Explanation: The sinful human nature is anti-Christ, which tries to draw us away from Christ. People reject us because they reject Christ. When we suffer for doing good, we taking Christ’s sufferings with us. We are walking the path of Christ with the cross. We are marked as His children.
Validation: From the Bible, we saw Christ came to the world to suffer from insults, distresses, persecutions, and crucifixion to pay the debt for our sin. He suffered for us and showed us a victorious path that this world cannot overcome. So did Paul and other disciples went on the same path with similar sufferings. As Paul proudly claimed, “For to me, to live is Christ.” Being persecuted for doing the good proves that we are partakers of Christ, which is a privilege for us to be.
Application: But how many of us could say today, “For to me, to live is Christ”? I personally always get upset (unlike Christ) when I was rejected while preaching Gospel to my families and friends. Could be they know me too well. It was such suffering for me that they do not want to hear anything about Gospel at all. Once my dad even told me that if I go to seminary, he will not be my dad. Rejoicing in such situation seems impossible. But wait, isn’t that the test of our Christian living? Through all the sufferings and tests, God is going to make our faith more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire before. When I think of the future glory to be revealed to us, the sufferings of this present time are not worthy.
We, Christians shall be glad when His glory revealed
Explanation: The day His glory revealed is the day He comes back. Christians will be with God forever since then, which we should be glad about.
Validation: Imagine this, you can close your eyes if you want. When Christ comes back, crowned with righteousness and holiness, there will be new heaven and new earth with jasper wall, pearl gates and even gold streets. There will be no tears nor sorrow. There will be no more sin or darkness. There is eternity we will be with God forever and ever. How joyful! How pleasant! How beautiful! How glorious! To be with the most loving one and never be separated again.
Application: Are we ready to gladly see God in His glory? Remember, our Father is the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work. Have we ever experienced sufferings for being a Christian and doing good? Or did we just call Him Father but live in a same life as before? Facing each suffering, have we been faithful? Or did we just deny His name and avoid mentioning again? Do we stand for the Truth and talk for the Truth all the time? Or do we yield to the earthly teachings and support with silence? Are we willing to sacrifice ourselves to Him and choose to die to sin even we are not on mission fields? Or do we just live a confortable life to please our physical bodies?
Conclusion: I want to close this sermon quoting from a song.
Olives that have known no pressure
No oil can bestow;
If the grapes escape the winepress,
Cheering wine can never flow;
Spikenard only through the crushing,
Fragrance can diffuse.
Shall I then, Lord, shrink from suff’ring
Which Thy love for me would choose?
If Thy mind and mine should differ,
Still pursue Thy way;
If Thy pleasure means my sorrow,
Still my heart shall answer, “Yea!”
’Tis my deep desire to please Thee,
Though I suffer loss;
E’en though Thy delight and glory
Mean that I endure the cross.
Each blow I suffer
Is true gain to me.
In the place of what Thou takest
Thou dost give Thyself to me.
Dear brothers and sisters, may we all joyfully face every suffering and take every chance to partake Christ’s sufferings whether in mission field or not, while looking forward to His glory to be revealed.