The Passion of a Christian (1Pet. 4:1-19)
The Bible has a lot to talk about Christian Suffering. Let us see what Peter had to say about it in a letter that he wrote to Christians who were undergoing suffering for what they believed and practiced.
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The Nature of Christian Suffering
Peter begins with the acknowledgement that suffering is always painful (vs. 12). The pain of it is not reduced for Christians, God in the suffering of Christ knows that suffering is painful. The suffering of Christ too was not reduced because it was the Son of God that was suffering, nor was he given any special kind of allowance to not to fill the agony of the pain that he had to go through. When it hurts, it hurts in the same way as it hurts any other normal person.
Our suffering may be of various kinds, it may be an insult for the name of Christ (vs.14) or physical persecution for the sake of Christ (Mt. 5:11-12), or may have to pay the price in various forms for being loyal to Christ. However, suffering that comes due to our own sin is not Christian suffering (vs.15). We should not blame God for it, or take credit for it as suffering for Christ, but it should lead us to repentance, in such cases forgiveness is offered but we may have to live with the consequences of our sins and mistakes which may cause us to suffer.
Suffering for Christ or because of Christ is to partake in His suffering (vs.13; 2 Cor. 4:10). Christ suffered for the sake of the Church. When we suffer for the sake of the gospel and the Church, we continue the legacy of the suffering of Christ. (Col. 1:24). Christ suffered because of who He was and what He did. We too will suffer because who we are and what we do, the world would treat us the same way as it treated Christ. (Jn.17:14).
Suffering is endured in the power of the Holy Spirit (vs.14). The power given to the church on the day of Pentecost included the power to suffer (acts 1:8) Paul prayed for such an endurance through the Spirit to the church (Col. 1:11). He gives thanks to God for the Thessalonians who in spite of severe suffering, welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. (1 Thess. 1:6).
Suffering has a noble place in God's economy (vs. 14; Heb.12:4-7, 10-11). When we suffer we share in the blessing and the glory that the name of Christ represents. When we suffer, we suffer in the palms of our heavenly father where He keeps and preserves us in the midst of suffering. Through suffering, God perfects our character. Christian suffering is never minus God's love, God also suffers with us when we suffer and is able to sympathize with us through Jesus Christ.