“But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled” (I Peter 3:14).
Few Christians in the modern world, especially in our own country, have actually suffered physical persecution or martyrdom for the cause of Christ. Nevertheless, the Scriptures emphasize that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” of some kind, particularly in “the last days” (II Timothy 3:1,12). We need, therefore, not to seek persecution, but at least to understand it, and react appropriately when it comes. As the world descends deeper into humanism and occultism, we may even face physical persecution as many Christians in communist, Muslim, and pagan lands already have.
Peter, who once himself was so fearful that he denied Christ, warns us not to fall into the same reaction. “Be not afraid, or troubled,” he says. Instead, “be happy!” Strange advice seemingly, but genuinely good advice. “Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you” (I Peter 4:13,14).
Christ Himself said: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:11,12). The apostle Paul, who also suffered great persecution and eventual martyrdom, cautioned that we should be “in nothing terrified by your adversaries: . . . For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:28,29). HMM