While most of the blog’s readers will not not be persecuted by hungry lions in the Roman Coliseum or being burned on a stake, a different kind of persecution is being employed around the world and across the United States today. Friends will abandon and despise you, mock you, and even take to insults to show you how wrong you are. The question is not how to avoid the persecution for standing by the truths of the Bible, but what to do when that persecution comes. In the study of 1 Peter that the writer has been going through, Peter now, in chapter 3 and verse 13, begins to address Christian conduct in the suffering of the Jewish Christians, who were in fact burned and persecuted by hungry lions. Peter develops what he discussed briefly back in chapter two, verses 19-20.
1 Peter 2:19-20 – For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
Peter wants to reassure his readers on this subject early before he gets into the deeper points of his message. He explains that nobody can harm us, if we as Christians are following God.
1 Peter 3:13 – And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
One may get ahead of me and state: “If nobody can harm me then I should never get hurt in any way, physical or spiritual.” The verse needs a bit more context before one uses it on his or her own. To rectify this, one needs only look to the beginning of the next verse.
1 Peter 3:14a – But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake,
If a Christian does good in the eyes of the unsaved man, he or she may or may not be harmed by those apart from Christ. The lost may never praise someone for doing good in the eyes of God. However, if one does good and he or she suffers for it (such as receiving persecution for the preaching of the cross, following biblical standards, opposing worldly activities) – remember they are to them that perish foolishness (paraphrased from 1 Corinthians 1:18). Peter goes on in the second half of verse 14 to say:
1 Peter 3:14b – happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
So, the first rule of conduct in suffering is laid out for readers. When trials and persecutions come to Christians for obeying the commands of God in the Bible, don’t get afraid or be troubled, be happy. While this may seem to be a difficult thought to swallow, several times in the Bible is this principle discussed. Matthew 5:39, James 1:2, 1 Peter 2:9, and this verse here (among others) all discuss the principle of not retaliating when persecuted. The only logical conclusion is that God wants us to receive joy in our trials.
Job 23:10 – But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
Peter moves on after restating the principle he has discussed throughout his epistle, as he delves into another principle immediately: be ready to give an answer.
1 Peter 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Why should one be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks? Many reasons could be listed but only three reasons that the writer himself has drawn have been chosen for this particular post. First, Christians have a responsibility to lead others to Christ. If one cannot witness of Christ, they are not fulfilling their Biblical responsibility. Secondly, Christians are also responsible for the discipleship of other Christians, who without guidance will go astray back into the world from which they were saved from. Finally, Christians have a testimony for Christ that is shown every single day. One’s testimony plays a key role in witnessing and discipleship. Outside of these three reasons, Peter backs up this last reason with the next verse.
1 Peter 3:16 – Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
Peter closes this section of Scripture with a thought that should bring joy to any Christian devoted to following God every step of the way.
1 Peter 3:17 – For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
To close, if a Christian was to take this verse and live everyday by it, there should be no trial that makes him or her miserable from standing for the truth.