There is more than one way to suffer as a Christian…

It is easy to get the idea that this verse has to do with persecution that results from sharing Christ with unbelievers. Undoubtedly, this is a part of what this verse talks about, but there are other ways one can suffer as a Christian here in the West.

Perhaps you are a person in an office on a team who wishes to play the lottery (Scripture calls that gambling), and you choose to refrain. The looks you get and the whispers you don’t quite hear are undoubtedly ridiculing you, and that isn’t fun. You should see what happens when they win. You won’t see a dime, I can assure you. You may think this far fetched, but my wife is in exactly that position at work.

Perhaps you are an undershepherd in training (read student pastor). You have been given the opportunity to participate in the daily running of a local gathering because of the regular pastor’s short-term illness. You volunteer for everything! And then some senior citizen who has been a church member longer than you, with illusions that he was placed in charge by the pastor (when your pastor has directly communicated to you this is not and will not ever be the case) wants to take you to task for volunteering for this stuff three days in a row? Can you honestly say that isn’t suffering for the sake of Christ? No, neither can I. (pray for me, this one is still in progress)

My situation is difficult. The tone this gentleman used was calm, full of pithy phrases like “we are here to serve the church,” and as condescending as my own abusive father when he had caught me in some imagined wrong. I have to admit, it pushed a few buttons I forgot about. To make the situation worse, I could tell by his tone he was enjoying it when he set me off. Look, I work for free while I’m a student, and I have been encouraged by my pastor and other pastors to go and experience as much as I can. And my family struggles financially because I do what God wants here. He provides, but sometimes, to be frank I’m biting my nails and wondering where the money is going to come from for some of the bills. You couldn’t pay me enough to deal with the pharisaical nonsense I’m getting from that guy. Is this not also suffering as a Christian as Peter says?

The first thing Peter says about this is not to be ashamed. I can admit that this superfluous cross-examination has made me feel like I have done something wrong. I have not, and I do not need to feel shame. I am the Lord’s servant, doing what He has told me to do. Then Peter says to glorify God in this name – that is, in Jesus’s name. (Yes, that’s an “s’s” you see, it’s intentional, and correct according to the Chicago Manual of Style.) In other words, I need to do the best job I can do despite the gent who seems to want to throw me off course.

Why? The very next verse gives all the reason anyone will ever need. Judgement. It’s coming for everyone. No one will escape it. And it’s starting with His Church. I will have to give an account of how I did on all this stuff. And the good news? So will the gent. And if what he is doing is what the Lord told him to do, fine. If not, hey, we all have to give an account. I’ll be praying either way.

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