If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.1 Peter 4:14(ESV)
Nobody wants to endure suffering, pain, or persecution. None of us like it when we are disparaged or denigrated by friends or acquaintances, and yet Peter teaches us: "If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed! If you are ridiculed, insulted, or hated for His name's sake you are favoured people... because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you."
Which of us sees insults as blessings or wounds as marks of beauty? Who would think the way up is down – or losing one’s life is the only way to save it? To consider the reviling of others to be a blessing appears to be an oxymoron, but God’s economy is diametrically opposite from man’s logic, for the wisdom of man is foolishness to Him.
Like the teaching of the Cross... the wisdom of God is foolishness to those that are perishing. But to those of us who have been saved through faith, walking in truth and love, and growing in grace through the process of sanctification, it is the power of God. How astonishing it is to realise that receiving reproach for Christ’s sake is of high worth in God’s heart.
Yet too often, we are influenced by the world and can become tainted with a humanistic mindset. Secular things that are exalted by man are often despised by the Lord, yet elements that are abhorrent to men... like suffering and persecution, are of the greatest value to our Father and bring to fruition abundant blessings and a joy beyond human comprehension.
There is a vast difference, however, between the suffering that comes because one is a Christian and the suffering that comes through evildoing. The suffering we endure for Christ's sake today, has a purifying effect. It refines us and purifies us in our Christian walk as we are conformed into the likeness of Christ. The suffering the ungodly will face are the fires of judgement which will serve as punishment for their rejection of the truth.
The punishment that we deserve was meted out to Christ on the Cross for our sake, and we are to glory in the scars that beautify the hands and feet of our Lord Jesus, for by His stripes we are healed, and by His blood our sins are forgiven. The hatred and revilings we receive because we are His should not surprise us - rather we should rejoice, for when we suffer on His account He is glorified and because we are identified with our Saviour, the Spirit of glory and God rests upon us.
In the early days of the Church, it was considered to be a privilege to be considered worthy to be persecuted for the cause of Christ, and believers rejoiced that they could suffer shame for His name’s sake. Paul considered that the outward signs of persecution on his body were a testimony that he was a Christian and belonged to Christ: "For I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus," he wrote in his Epistle to the Galatians.
Suffering for righteousness sake is an indication that the Spirit of Christ rests upon us and although the name of Jesus is blasphemed by the persecutors of His blood-bought children, nevertheless our Saviour is glorified by the sufferings of His persecuted saints.
Should we not consider it our greatest privilege to be insulted for Him? Should we not reckon it an honour to participate in His reproach? Should we not identify with Christ as partners in His suffering and rejoice since we are partakers in His humiliation?
Although we do not glorify God FOR the suffering we have to endure, we ought to glorify God IN our suffering and we should glorify Him for all that He will accomplish THROUGH our pain and persecution. Those of us that do are blessed, indeed.
What a joy to know that the suffering and insults we take on behalf of Christ are, in fact, a heavenly blessing given to us from above because the Spirit of Glory and of God rests upon us. May we look to Jesus and away from the world, and may the Word of Christ dwell in us richly so that the ungodly mindset of the world will be diminished.
Heavenly Father, thank You that Christ identified with me so that I can be identified with Him. If, by identifying with Him and lifting His name high I suffer, may I not be ashamed but count it as a sweet blessing. I want to know Him more, to know the power of His Resurrection, and to participate in His sufferings so that I may become more like Him in His death. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.