Christian Suffering, Part 1

Yesterday Dad preached about Christian Suffering. His text was from I Peter 4:12-19. Dad only got through one point, which is usual. The point was that we should expect suffering. As verse 12 states, “Beloved think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” Verse 16 says, “Yet if anyman suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed…”

Paul before King Agrippa (Acts 26)
Paul before King Agrippa.

There are only three times in scripture that the word “Christian” is used. The first is in Act 11:19-26. The believers were first called Christians in Antioch (v26). Why were they in Antioch? Because of persecution (v19)! The second place the word “Christian” is found is in Acts 26. Paul is standing before King Agrippa. In verse 28 Agrippa tells Paul: “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” The early church did not call themselves “Christian,” they used the words “believers,” “saints,” or “brethren.” The word “Christian” was used by the people of the world as a subject of scorn. The last place that “Christian” is used is here in I Peter 4. Just months after Peter wrote this epistle, Rome started persecuting the Christians.

We should expect suffering because we have an enemy—the devil. Everything that is pure and good, the devil will hate it with a passion. This is because the devil is the exact opposite of pure—he is filthy and vile.

All through history Satan has been trying to destroy the saints of God. Just read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. People were burned to death, stretched apart, and much more horrific and pain-inflicting things just because a person identified with Jesus Christ. Everything in the world is about identification. The world wants you to indentify with them. For example, in some gangs, you have to have a certain tattoo to identify with them. Or to be a part of the “cool” group in school, you have to wear certain clothing or talk in a certain way.

We should expect suffering because we live in a fallen world.

Cain slaying Abel (Gen 4)
Cain before the slain Abel.

We should expect suffering because we have chosen a life contrary to the world. The world mocks that which does not join their party. The world hates us because we identify with Jesus Christ. John 15:18-19 “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have c hosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Remember I John 3:11-13. John is talking about Cain and Abel. Abel was bring a blood sacrifice to God while Cain was bringing vegetables. I’m sure Cain was saying “It’s the heart that matters.” But God had set specific standards and Cain was ignoring that standard. Therefore, Cain slew Abel because Able did what was right and Cain was not. I Peter 2:21 “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” II Timothy 3:12 “ Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

We are called to suffering. Yes. Us. Americans. Not just the Africans, but US IN AMERICA. This does not mean that we should go out and try to suffer. No, suffering will come. It not just being excluded from being “apart of the gang,” but it also means that people will misread you and misunderstand you. People from your own family will look at you strange and whisper behind you back about how strange you are. This is all because you have chosen a life with Jesus Christ and the world will persecute you for that decision.