Blessed is the man…

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

In his first letter, Peter instructed his readers about the difficulties that they would face, expressly because they were followers of Christ. “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.” Peter was likely writing in the midst of his own physical trial and impending execution. He wanted his fellow Christians to understand that such treatment was normal—it was to be expected.

Similarly, John wrote in his first letter, “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” Possibly he was recalling the words of Jesus in John 15:18-19, “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” Jesus was explicit in these words to his disciples. There was little positive that they could expect from the world. The world had rejected Christ. As a result, those who claimed him also would be rejected.

I am not sure if the hostility toward followers of Christ is increasing, or if I simply seem to be more sensitive to it all.  Regardless, the words that Jesus spoke about this, and the words that his disciples later wrote about it, are instructive for us. The kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world have been in conflict virtually from the beginning. We should not be surprised, therefore, at the depth of enmity towards us and what we believe. We should rejoice, however, that this life is only temporary as we look ahead to what is promised.                                                      –Ricky

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