Summary: Do you know how to break or make a Christian? Let him / her go through the process of suffering.
Subject: How should believers respond to suffering?
Complement: Unsurprised, rejoicing, knowing that they are blessed.
Homiletical Idea: Persecution can break or make a Christian.
Purpose: As a result of this sermon, my listeners (believers) would be made aware and encouraged during suffering and persecution they (may) undergo for Christ’s sake.
We live in a post 9/11 era during which this nation was attacked and bombed for being a Christian nation.
How would we react if persecution / suffering was to start upon (Christians) believers in this nation today?
· If churches were asked to close down and converted into clubs, malls, gyms or anything but churches.
· Seminaries were asked to shut down and converted into hotels, casinos, bars and you name it.
· All this would result in Pastors and seminary professors to go without jobs.
· What if jobs were given to non-Christians and Christians were neglected.
· If believers were secretly followed around by the CIA.
· And if at every moment of our lives, we were questioned about our faith and allegated for our allegiance to Christ.
· This is exactly what happens in countries where Christians are persecuted for their faith. Would we remain faithful to God in all this?
[Example] When I came to the USA in 2004, I met a pastor in the mid-west who became a very intimate friend of ours. We shared a lot and this is what he told me. Ajai I have never ever traveled abroad, I love my country. I don’t desire it but pray that we as Christians in this nation would undergo persecution. I was shocked and asked him why he had said that. He replied that we as Christians in this nation have enjoyed life to the fullest but (a) our faith has never been tested (b) we have never ever really shared the suffering with Christ (c) this is needed so that our nation is drawn closer to Christ.
Transition: Today our passage is drawn on the same lines. It is taken from 1 Peter 4: 12 – 14. (History of this epistle and Peter, his wife and other disciples undergoing persecution during that time.) 43 million Christians have been killed for their faith since Christ’s crucifixion. 26 million have been martyred in the 20th century alone – more than the 1,900 years prior to it. More than 200 million Christians in over 60 nations face persecution daily of which 60% are children. 150,000 – 165,000 estimated are martyred each year. Christians are the most persecuted group in the world today.
Do you know how to break or make a Christian? Let him / her go through the process of suffering.
1. Surprised? In your suffering!
Read 1 Peter 4: 12 ‘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.’
(A) Do not be surprised! - Response
[analogies: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo; Stephen]
(B) It is for our Testing. - Reason
· Suffering perfects our salvation – Hebrews 2: 10
· God wants to see whether we are faithful to Him and do we really love Him. – God’s conversation with Moses about the Israelites in Exodus. [analogies: Job; Richard Wumbrand; No Cross – No Poland]
Transition: Peter exhorts us not to be surprised as if it were something strange was happening to us but to take it as a challenging test to prove that we are faithful to God in every circumstance. Shall we get a little more deeper? Peter pushes us over the edge. He asks us to rejoice in the suffering.
2. Rejoice? In your suffering!
Read 1 Peter 4: 13 ‘But rejoice that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.’
(A) Keep Rejoicing! - Response
[analogies: How to rejoice when Christian women / children and Christians are taken as slaves in Sudan; Churches burnt to ashes and Nuns raped in Gujarat India?]
(B) Partake in Christ’s suffering. - Reason
[analogies: Paul; Richard Wumbrand; Graham Stanes]
© God’s glory is revealed. – Result
[analogies: Daniel; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo – God glorified; Richard Wumbrand; Graham Stanes]
(Homelitecal Idea: Will such events in our lives, break us or make us?)
· I have seen some Christians break in these circumstances. Our endurance during such situations determines our love, intimacy and faithfulness to God. I wonder how would we respond when persecution catches up with us and is right in our face, here in the USA.
Transition: Peter encourages believers not only to rejoice in suffering because we partake in Christ’s affliction so that His glory is revealed through our lives but he stretches it further to satisfy our curiosity.
3. Be Blessed! In your suffering.