Remaining faithful in times of persecution
Who then will harm you if you are devoted to what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear them or be intimidated. 1 Peter 3:13-14 CSB
Earlier, Peter’s focus is on relationships between husbands and wives, followed by relationships within the church, and now, we have relationships with people outside of the church. As a reminder again, Peter is writing to believers who are scattered abroad facing persecution under Nero. Peter writes that since believers are doing the right thing, typically, they shouldn’t be under pain or trials. His question in verse 13 leads us to that point: “Who then will harm you if you are devoted to what is good?” Yet, the believers living during this time were experiencing difficulties. They were under one of the cruelest emperors in Roman history, who would literally light his evening garden parties with flaming Christians on stakes. Christians were fed to lions and slaughtered for sport in the Colosseum. So, Peter encourages the believers in verse 14 saying that “even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed.” Peter knows this first hand, experiencing persecution and imprisonment in the early days of the church in the Book of Acts. Not only that, but he was also present when Jesus Christ declared in the Sermon on the Mount the blessings for those who undergoes persecution though they are doing the Lord’s work. In Matthew 5:10-12, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Suffering and pain are a part of the Christian walk, which when we are tested, our faith in Christ deepens and we reflect more of Him, as Peter mentioned this in the beginning of his letter. “You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7). Peter encourages the believers to not be fearful or intimidated by these persecutors, but to keep doing good and to live righteously. Fear can cause people to run away or freeze. Peter wants us to hold onto the promised blessings from Christ’s words and be courageous in our actions of righteousness. When Christ is present in the Christian’s heart, Christ is their defense in times of trials. “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.” (John 14:1, 27).
Isaac De Guzman