1 Peter 3:8-18 (click here)
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God… (1 Peter 3:14-18a)
All of us suffer… but have we suffered for righteousness sake?
When God’s people live as God’s people, we are promised that suffering will naturally come. I’m not saying that we seek out suffering, but that it is the inevitable result of following Jesus… there is a massive difference.
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” (2 Timothy 3:12)
Yet, we have the confidence that Peter speaks of when he says that EVEN IF we suffer for righteousness sake, we will be blessed… for no matter what suffering comes our way, even if it is death itself, we have God as our inheritance. Christ died to bring us to God! Even if we suffer and die, death is only a vehicle to transport us into the very presence of God! We will still be blessed! We cannot lose!
Therefore, Peter tells us as a people to have no fear or be troubled! Since suffering cannot win in our lives, we can live to honor the Lord as holy… and when the world is confused by our deep abiding joy in the face of suffering, we are ready to make a defense for the hope we have in Christ! We are ready to proclaim that though we lose everything, even our lives, we do not lose our joy because our joy is Jesus!
This is not a superficial, frivolous joy… no… this is a rock-solid joy that stands even in the midst of suffering and sorrow! We are a people who are sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (2 Corinthians 6:10). We are a people who mourn, but not as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). And when we suffer and sorrow, yet stand joyously on the hope of Christ… we mirror the cross of Christ!
Jesus suffered and sorrowed, yet for the joy set before him he endured the cross! He cried out as one forsaken, yet committed his Spirit into the hands of his Father!
He suffered for righteousness sake… and so do we as his people… mirroring his sacrifice… pointing the world to his sacrifice by being a cruciform community.
All of us suffer… but do we suffer for righteousness sake?