But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:13)
Recent headlines say it all: “Christian College Student Killed in Nigeria,” “Hindu State Passes Anti-Conversion Law,” “Christian Refugees Flee Afghanistan to Escape the Taliban.” Researchers tell us that about one in seven Christians worldwide lives in a place where the church experiences a significant level of persecution, ranging from social ostracism to physical attack and modern martyrdom.
“You Western Christians take the benediction far too lightly,” I once heard a believer from a developing nation say. “For us, it’s a prayer that we’ll get home alive.”
The church in Peter’s day knew persecution all too well. Peter himself would die on a cross, requesting to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner as his Lord. Yet he spoke to his readers not of gritty determination or stoic endurance but of joy—being joyful in their present sufferings because in the future they would be overjoyed to be with Christ.
At some level, we will be called upon to participate in his sufferings, too. The word translated “participate” is a form of the word “koinonia,” the New Testament word for fellowship. It will be an infinitely deeper fellowship than we enjoy at a church dinner or a small group meeting, though. It will be the bond of fellowship with Christ that comes through shared suffering.
Resolve now that no price is too high to pay for heaven.
Bob Black is an emeritus professor of religion at Southern Wesleyan University. Along with Keith Drury, he co-authored the denominational history, The Story of The Wesleyan Church.
© 2023 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.