12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.
Peter is dealing with churches in various regions, including Galatia and Asia, in regards to the (1) Reality of suffering, the (2) Reasons for suffering, the (3) Remedy for suffering, and the (4) Rank of suffering. I will expand on these points today and then in following entries apply it to the life of a Music Minister.
Reality Of Suffering. Notice that the Apostle says that we are not to be “surprised” by suffering. I tend to think that Peter is being a bit easy on me here. He might also say don’t be “miffed” or “angered” or “frustrated” at the fiery ordeal because that is what I am far more prone to do than merely experience surprise. Obviously, the churches to whom Peter was writing were far more mature than I am.
Notice also that he says that these trials “come upon” us (v. 12). The suffering in which Peter refers is not the direct result of sin on the part of the sufferer but is something that comes from the Hand of Providence and is ordained by God Himself. There is no sense, therefore, in thinking that I can be excused from suffering. Which gets to my second point….
Reasons For Suffering. Peter says that we must be tested. They come “upon us for” our “testing” (v. 12) so that ultimately we may “rejoice with exultation” (v. 13). This is not in a meritorious sense but in the sense of having great pleasure in identifying with Jesus IN suffering. It is evidence to the sufferer for assurance that the “Spirit of glory and of God” is at work in the sufferer’s life (v. 14). The challenge in suffering is to see it as for our good (Rom 8:28). They did not “get past” God nor are they sent by God because He is a masochist or mean-spirited. They are an expression of His love to His children.
Remedy For Suffering. Because of all this, we are to rejoice and “keep on rejoicing” (v. 13). Notice the language. It is already assumed that we ARE rejoicing. If I am not in a rejoicing lifestyle, something is wrong. Suffering is a sign of God’s blessing (v. 14). (Soap Box Moment—why don’t we hear THAT preached by “prosperity gospel” preachers???)
Rank Of Suffering. Here’s what I really wanted to get to. Thankfully, Peter qualifies suffering. He is not saying that all suffering is a direct result of loving Jesus. The bible says in Gal. 6:7 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap”. To be honest, most of my suffering is because of my own selfishness. A man going to the electric chair because he murdered a family of four is NOT what Peter is talking about here. He IS talking about practical rejection because we treasure Jesus and stand on the truth that He gives through the gospel. In verse 15, he says to be sure that we are not suffering because of our sin.
It’s on this point that I wish to make points of application in terms of growth (and lack of it) in church Music Departments. In my next posts, I will attempt to give good reasons and bad reasons for lack of numbers increase.