1 Peter 4:12-16
According to Open Doors, 11 Christians are killed daily for their decision to follow Christ. In North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, and several other countries, it is extremely difficult to be a Christian. Believers are attacked by both the state and Islamist groups. Systematic killings of Christians have also been ongoing in parts of Northern Nigeria for years.
Persecution of believers hasn’t ceased since their Lord himself was hunted down and nailed to a cross 2,000 years ago. Peter reminds us, however, to rejoice, for we will also share in his glory:
“Rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (v.13)
Earlier in Matthew 5:11-12, Jesus himself gave the same instruction:
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
But why should we rejoice?
We rejoice because the world’s hostility is proof that we are not like them. It indicates that we belong to a different camp and a different world. We are members of a new nation, a chosen generation, and we belong to a unique race.
We are the saved ones: those who have been graciously made to see their misery and have fled to Jesus for salvation.
We are the called-out ones: those who have been summoned to align with God’s standards and perspective, against a culture that lives otherwise.
We are the renewed ones: those who have received God’s spirit and are being transformed daily into a new people.
Persecution, in whatever form, is an indication that God knows us and the world realizes who we are.
And for that, we rejoice.