Suffering because of our faith is never pleasant, and no one enjoys it, although we can find joy through the experience. However, it is definitely better than the alternative. Take a look at this week’s passage in 1 Peter 4:17-18.
Peter has spent a large majority of this chapter discussing the suffering and persecution that believers experience because of their faith in Christ. In these last verses of chapter four, he gives a comparison to those who do not believe.
There is a judgment coming, and Peter tells us it will begin with the family of God, or more literally, the house of God, the church. He used the same imagery back in chapter 2, verse 5, when he stated that we are being built into a spiritual house.
Many believe that he is referring here to the end of the present suffering that his readers were facing. Others take this to mean the final judgment to come when Christ returns. I don’t think it is an either/or statement, and is much more likely to be a both/and reference, pointing out that the believers were being purified by their suffering, and hinting that there was a greater judgment to come eventually.
The latter half of this verse gives the comparison between believers and non-believers. If we, as believers, face such a judgment, what of those who choose not to believe? In other words, if we are discouraged and dismayed by the suffering we face, we should consider the eventual fate of those who do not obey the gospel.
In verse 18, Peter quotes the Septuagint’s translation of Proverbs 11:31 to prove his point. The end result of those who disobey will be far worse than whatever suffering the faithful experience in this life.
I think this gives us two different things to think about, and to pursue. First of all, we must make sure we are a part of the first group, and not the second. Their fate is eternal condemnation, and to be avoided. The second thought this brings is that we should do everything in our power to help others escape that fate. And we have the gospel, through which they can be saved.
And finally, we should feel a sense of urgency, because we don’t know when the final days will come, and the opportunity to be saved will end.
Question: Are you thankful to be included in the family of God? What can you do to bring others into this family? You can leave a comment by clicking here.