Athlete, Keep on Rejoicing
1 Peter 4:13 (NASB)
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.
When a star MLB player was up for a new contract, the conversation with his agent went like this:
Agent: “Should be an easy contract. You are not the team union rep or anything.”
Player: “But I am the union rep.”
Agent: “We will have to work around that. At least you are not the team’s chapel leader.”
Player: “But I am.”
In the U.S., Christians mostly encounter the occasional strange look or word from those who oppose Jesus. Sometimes it affects a Christian’s position or respect in an organization. Now the consequences for being committed to Jesus’ teaching are accelerating to involve your career, your job and your finances.
It is hard to rejoice over any difficulty, but Peter is raising the standard by the phrase “to the degree.” He is pushing for rejoicing proportionally to the amount we suffer for being aligned with Jesus.
The more normal reaction is a proportional level of anger or revenge toward those who inflict the criticism or rejection. Rejection is painful at any level.
God could protect us from it, but He has chosen not to. Ultimately, our anger is with God for allowing the suffering. We question why He wouldn’t stop it.
How do we get to the unnatural place where we are able to rejoice over the heat that we take for being Jesus-followers? Part of the answer is found in God’s purpose for our suffering.
When we suffer for holding biblical truths, God uses this suffering to deepen our convictions about those truths. Suffering causes us to revisit what we believe and fortify our position. It increases our strength to persevere.
Peter leaves us with hope by the phrase “at the revelation of His glory.” He is referring to Jesus’ return when we are united with Him. We will look back on suffering and celebrate that He considered us worthy to suffer for Him.
Today’s devotional is one of five this week on being “Out of Step with the Culture” by Tom Petersburg.
Tom Petersburg, www.catapultministries.org