Gospel suffering is participation in the life of God

Peter writes to the Christians in Asia Minor instructing them that they ought not to be surprised when they experience gospel suffering.

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.  However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” 4v12-16

Earlier he writes: “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” (2v21) Christ is not only the author and the means of our salvation but his life demonstrates to us the pattern of gospel life – suffering followed by glory.

But now in 4:12-16 Peter seems to say something even more interesting: when we suffer for being Christians we participate in the trinitarian life of God.  When we suffer for being Christians we “participate in the sufferings of Christ” (v13), “the Spirit of glory” rests on us (v14) and we bear the name of God (v16).  When we suffer for the gospel it is a sign that our life is now caught up in the life and mission of the truine God. Thus when we begin with God as our reference point rather than our own comforts or preferences, to suffer for the gospel becomes an occasion for rejoicing, blessing and praise.

Extra: Themes of 1 Peter

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One thought on “Gospel suffering is participation in the life of God

  1. Pingback: A Week(s) in Woodstock « a missional life

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