Part 4 of GRIT. 1 Peter 4:12-19.
Peter Foxwell. The Cornerstone Church. October 21, 2018.
I have a friend who operates a machine in a local factory. He's worked there for years and he told me that he catches grief every single working day for being a Christian. His co-workers tease him relentlessly. BUT ... he is still standing for Jesus. He doesn't back down and he won't apologize. Students, maybe that same thing happens to you at school every day. Parents, maybe your kids give you a hard time for following Jesus. It's not persecution. No one's going to jail. It's just annoying and a bit discouraging.
Peter wrote about exactly the same thing. This ancient group of Christians were being insulted (14) for the name of Christ (16). It wasn't life threatening, but Peter called it a fiery trial (12) because it's a kind of suffering (13) and it puts our faith to the test (12) like gold is refined in the fire. Jesus went through it first (remember how the religious leaders rejected him?) and now, we participate in his sufferings (13).
If Peter were standing here today, this is what he'd say to all of us: BE BOLD! Don't apologize and don't back down.
Let me tell you why ...
A. I'M BOLD BECAUSE I BELONG TO JESUS - verse 16
(1 Peter 4:16) If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
Shame is what we feel when we've done something dumb. We're embarrassed at our own stupidity. I was at the River Crab on a snowy day a few years back and I backed my car into a light pole. That was dumb and I felt ashamed :).
Bearing the name of Jesus isn't stupid or shameful. He's a compelling person: a great teacher, profound philosopher, great moral leader, and compassionate healer. The men and women who knew him, loved him. He went to the cross for them and they gave their lives to follow in his footsteps.
John Wimber used to say, "I'm a fool for Jesus, whose fool are you?" What he meant was, everyone follows someone or something. The worst kind of fool follows himself. Who better to base our lives on than Jesus?
When Peter and John were arrested in Jerusalem for preaching about Jesus, they didn't cower in shame and fear. They were bold/courageous (Acts 4:13). When the leaders told them to stop preaching, they refused to obey:
(Acts 4:19-20) Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God's eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
When they were released they met with the other believers and had a prayer meeting. Listen to the prayer:
(Acts 4:29) Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness/courage.
B. I'M BOLD BECAUSE I'M BLESSED - verse 14
(1 Peter 4:14) If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
When someone gives us a hard time for being a Christian, it's not about us. It's an attack on Jesus. It's because of the name of Christ. We represent him.
The insults are aimed at us because the Spirit of glory and of God is all over us. What that means is Jesus manifests himself through us by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is all over us, marking us as belonging to Jesus. It's like a bullseye on our backs. But it's an honor to be bullied for that.
Jesus had the same anointing (Isaiah 11:1-3; Luke 3-4) and the devil came after him. The religious leaders saw his supernatural anointing and said he was full of demons (Mark 3:22-30). Jesus said the same thing would happen to us:
(Matthew 5:11-12) “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
I remember sitting in a meeting with a couple of social workers and a client they were working with. I was there to support the client. The social workers literally sneered at me because I was a Christian pastor. I wanted out of that room ASAP, but I was there to represent Jesus.
People have a go at us because we manifest Jesus to the world. That's AWESOME and AMAZING. We should be humbled and proud to represent because it places us in the long line of prophets, men and women of God, who were persecuted for their faithfulness (2 Chronicles 24:21; Nehemiah 9:26; Jeremiah 20:2; Hebrews 11:35-38).
So ... stand up for Jesus. Never back down. Be BOLD!
C. I'M BOLD BECAUSE I'M BECOMING LIKE JESUS - verses 19, 17
(1 Peter 4:19) So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
This is very reassuring. Be bold because God's in charge of the whole experience - we suffer according to his will - so he's not going to waste the hurts.
There is something so important going on when we're being bullied for Jesus. God uses every insult and joke and hurt to make us like Jesus. That's what verse 17 means:
(1 Peter 4:17a) It is time for judgment to begin with God's household (should be translated "house").
To understand what Peter means here, we have to look back at a prophecy in Malachi 3. He saw that the Lord would appears in his temple - God's house - which is the church today. Malachi sees what will happen:
(Malachi 3:2-3) He will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.
God is at work in his church/house NOW to refine his people - to remove the rough edges, to purify our hearts, so we hate our sin and love our God. Suffering for Jesus is all part of his plan to conform us to Jesus. It's his refining fire for his good purpose in our lives. He never wastes a hurt.
So ... when the bullying starts, stand firm. Be BOLD!
Here we are at the Lord's table and it reminds us of how our Lord Jesus responded to the bullies. Peter wrote about this:
(1 Peter 2:23-25) When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
Then, Peter wrote about why Jesus endured their insults:
(1 Peter 2:24) “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
God did not waste the sufferings of Jesus. His sacrifice for us had a beautiful purpose. As a result, we've come home to God. In the same way, when we're bold before our bullies, it points them to Jesus and the way home to God.
Be bold now. If you've never openly professed your faith in Jesus, now is the moment. When you stand and walk to the table, you are saying, "I belong to Jesus. I follow him. I'm not backing down."
Not only that, consider this: Because of Jesus, we are urged to come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). Come, eat and drink with God at his table of salvation.