Two days ago, I discussed one temptation that we as Christians face in the midst of persecution - the tendency to turn on each other. Today Peter brings up another - the temptation to respond with hostility toward the world.
There are few things more natural than the desire to retaliate. When someone hurts us, we want to hurt them back. If someone insults us, we immediately try to think of a comeback. The history of the human race is bloody and grim. “An eye for an eye” was put in the Old Testament law in an effort to limit this desire - without it, society would have devolved into blood feuds over every minor insult.
So, it is understandable that, when Christians are subject to persecution, our tendency is to fight back. When we are discriminated against, we want to lash out and put that shop owner, politician, or celebrity in their place. If someone makes fun of our religion, then we want to insult them right back - or complain to the manager. When the system shows us no respect, we understandably feel like we don’t need to respect the system.
While natural, this is not the example of Christ. Peter urges us instead to “...rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ” (1 Pet. 4:13 NIV). Shockingly, Peter commands us to rejoice even as we are persecuted, because in enduring persecution we are following our Lord. Rather than scream or fight, we are called to “...keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.” (1 Pet. 4:19 NLT)
The proper Christian response to persecution is to… keep doing the thing you were persecuted for with a smile, trusting that God will provide.
How do you respond when you are insulted? Are you quick to retaliate when someone wrongs you? Do you struggle with the command to rejoice in the midst of persecution? Ask God to grant you the patience and the wisdom to respond how Christ would in your shoes.