Dear family, children of the Kingdom;
May the grace, peace and mercy of God be with you. I pray that the Lord Jesus grants me to share with you a few words regarding the suffering of the saints, in the hope that you will be encouraged to stay the course, not being ignorant of the schemes that Satan uses.
From several places in the scriptures, we know that the saints should expect suffering for the sake of Christ.
Philippians 1:29 – For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.
However – as a disclaimer – it should be noted that one could be suffering, not because of his allegiance to Christ and his continued resolve to honor Him, but because of his continued fellowship with sin. In such case, one should not appropriate to himself the verse above, but should instead meditate on the ones below.
1 Peter 2:20 – …what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure?
This said, when one suffers for Christ’s sake, how does the persecution look like? You could be thinking of a missionary being imprisoned for preaching the Gospel, or for Christians being beaten for assembling themselves in someone’s house to fellowship. You could also be thinking of being forbidden to speak about God or pray in the school setting.
These cases certainly qualify as suffering for Christ’s sake. But allow me to submit to you that suffering for the sake of Christ comes in a much richer multitude of forms, many of them not falling into the “traditional” context of preaching the Gospel.
Consider what the Apostle Peter said…
1 Peter 2:19,20 – Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust [Greek (4646): skolios]. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.
Peter was exhorting servants (or employees) to be subject to their masters (or their employers), even if they were morally twisted, perverse or unjust (according the definition of the Greek word “skolios”). In other words, the worst kind. The employee is a child of God, and probably NOT “preaching” the scripture in the workplace. But he is a God-fearing person, and therefore he does good, he is honorable, with integrity because he recognizes that he must honor His God, and Him He should fear.
And this is enough to be persecuted for Christ’s sake.
You, who continuously endeavor to honor God in your life, you are being transformed into the very image of Christ. It is this fact – the fact that your character is displaying the attributes of God – that triggers the persecution. The employer, in this case, is nothing more than an instrument of Satan, and may never even refer to your faith. He or she will just persecute you.
HOW Satan persecutes you (and for how long) is not nearly as important as the simple fact that he is able to persecute you. The objective is simple: To cause you to stray away from Christ, even renounce your faith, which will manifest itself by Christ’s attributes progressively decaying in you.
Earlier in his letter, the Apostle Peter highlighted the fact that persecutions come in many different forms.
1 Peter 1:3-6 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various [Greek (4164): poikílos] trials.
The Greek word poikílos translated various properly means, of various kinds, diversified (“manifold”). In other words, the trials that we are subjected to have a variety of forms, they are very rich in their diversity.
Physical or mental persecutions, it really does not matter. The objective is simple: Lose your bearings, start sinning, take matters into your own hands, stop listening to Christ and hopefully simply give up that which you were given by Christ and charged to hold fast (the Gospel of Truth) and not lose.
My friends, you who endeavor to subject yourself to Christ that He may have His Way in you; stay strong and persevere. Persecutions come and will come in its many forms, sometimes not even suggesting that it is because you are holding onto Christ. But rest assured, He who is in you, is greater than He who is in the world. Hold fast, and you will conquer.
1 John 5:4 – And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
Praise, Honor and Glory be given to our Lord, Jesus, the Christ.