t was AD 64 that many portions of the great city of Rome burnt to the ground. When fingers were pointed at Nero, he moved the attention from himself to the hated Christians as the cause of the fire. A very trying time of persecution was precipitated by this accusation.
It was against this backdrop that Peter wrote his first epistle “to the strangers (pilgrims) scattered throughout. . .” 1 Peter 1:1. Note the jolting commendation given to those who suffer unjustly. “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully” 1 Peter 2:19.
Suffering because of our own wrong decisions/acts is to be expected; however, suffering unjustly for Christ’s sake is a very “special” experience. In 1 Peter 4:12-19, Peter provides his readers seven attitudes to adopt when facing unjust suffering:
1 -- “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” Don’t be surprised, expect suffering.
2 – “But 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. “ Wow! Rejoice for the privilege of suffering?!
3 – “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” Don’t betray the chance to lift up your Savior.
4 – “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.” Avoid suffering for wrongs you’ve committed. Don’t commit them!
5 – “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” Glorify God by showing His character under adversity. Do not be ashamed to suffer for Him.
6 – “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” Keep your suffering in perspective. There is a judgment coming which will deal with all wrongs committed. To accept the present unjust suffering is the right choice for the Christian.
7 – “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” The word “commit” means to “deposit for safekeeping”, a very worthwhile choice, and we do this “in well doing” – acting like Jesus.
It is only as we humbly place our implicit trust in Jesus that we can apply these attitudes and carry out His admonition applicable to us when faced with persecution. “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven” Matthew 5:12.