“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (I Peter 4:12).
Recent shifts in our culture have many Christians concerned about how we will be treated. However, the Bible tells us that when cultural shifts occur and the church of Jesus Christ is mistreated, this is an opportunity and not a time to panic. The church of Jesus Christ is mighty in seasons of comfort and seasons of discomfort.
The early church went through several generations that experienced fierce, bloody persecution. However, in this time, the global church grew exponentially. When Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th Century, the church became comfortable. The church became internally focused. Discipleship waned. The clever, devilish enemies of the church is not discomfort and trial, but comfort and internal focus.
When the culture around us begins to see following Christ as a freakish thing, let us not cower and panic, but seize the opportunity to show what the powerful grace of God in Jesus Christ does to a person. We are here on earth to be on mission to make disciples of Jesus. Don’t be surprised that the world finds Jesus and His Word to be disgusting and wicked in their worldview.
The very next verse, Peter says to “keep on rejoicing.” Why? “That you may also rejoice and be glad when (Jesus’) glory is revealed.” Rejoice now so you will rejoice in eternity. When the culture shifts, when Caesar issues new decrees, when judges make unjust decisions, God has not lost anything. He is still just as sovereign as yesterday. His return and completion of His eternal Kingdom has not lost any days or any joy. Therefore, we Christians are to keep on rejoicing! Our joy is not lost in trials, and we are not to think that trials and insults are strange things.
Let us remember to rejoice in the Lord always. Not in how agreeable our culture is to the church, not in how comfortable I am; we rejoice in the Lord. Always. Keep on rejoicing. We will rejoice when His glory is revealed. His joy is in us, and our joy will increase and be completed on that day. Rejoice in the Lord.