Over the weekend, enemies of Christ made themselves apparent by attacking his followers.
One of the attacks was carried out by the Islamist terrorist group Al-Shabaab, in a Nairobi mall. The attackers killed at least 62 people, injuring 175. Witnesses say they let Muslims go free before they began shooting people. The other attack occurred at the hands of two suicide bombers in aPakistani church of 500. 81 were killed, and 120 are wounded. The terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the attack is a “splinter group” of the Pakistani Taliban.
How are believers supposed to respond to such violent opposition? From 1 Peter, let me suggest six godly reactions.
1. Bless The Attackers
“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (3:9). Blessing those who curse or harm you requires supernatural grace. Thankfully, God is not stingy with such grace. By his Spirit, we can say with Jesus, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
2. Prepare Yourself
“Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (3:14b-15). In God’s sovereign, other-worldly wisdom, at your weakest, most vulnerable point, the potential for gospel proclamation is strongest. May each incident of persecution remind us to prepare ourselves well for the next, that we may be able give gospel answers that explain our gospel hope.
“But rejoice insofar as you share in Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (4:13). Just as unnatural as blessing our enemies is rejoicing in persecution. It is the height of Christlikeness, it is motivated by the promise of glory to come, and it can occur only because of God’s grace.
4. Endure in Faith
” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (4:19). God is sovereign, and his suffering children are suffering “according to [his] will.” This alone is not all that comforting. However, when taken with the promise that he is our faithful Creator to whom we can entrust our souls, his sovereignty couldn’t be more encouraging. Having faith that, no matter what happens, God will see us through, leads to a heavenly perspective.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (5:6-7). Our sinful unbelief tends to make even the simplest of privileges difficult. If we saw God for who he is, our mighty and faithful Creator who cares for us, how easy would it be to trust him in prayer when we’re faced with suffering! May God give us eyes to see the loving care he has for his people so that we can then humbly surrender all our anxieties to him, both for ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Pakistan, Kenya, and the rest of the world.
6. Resist Temptation
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (5:8-9). None of us are alone in our suffering. We must not buy into the devils’s malicious schemes to convince us otherwise.
All of these reactions are rooted in the promise that “after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace , who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (5:10-11).
(h/t Secret Church blog)
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