Focal passage: 1 Peter 4:12-19
I recently read a story about a Nigerian Christian man named Habila Adamu. One night members of Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group, came into his home and demanded that he convert to Islam and say the shehada: “There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is the prophet of Allah.” He refused, telling them that he could not because he was a Christian.
Adamu said, “My wife was crying, but I could not deny Christ. I felt powerful, unafraid, I don’t know why.” So, they asked him, “Are you ready to die as a Christian?”
Then, in front of his wife and only son, they shot Adamu in the neck and left him for dead. He was losing a lot of blood, but before he lost consciousness, with both he and his wife believing he would die, he told his wife, “to live in this world is to live for Christ.”
When we hear such stories we are shocked and horrified. We act as if Jesus came to provide peace and comfort here on Earth to His followers. Then, when the “fiery ordeal” of persecution arises, we act as if some surprising situation has taken place. The reality is, however, not only did Jesus not come simply to provide His followers comfort here on Earth, He actually promised the exact opposite would take place.
Jesus said, “And you will be hated by everyone because of My name” (Luke 21:17). Therefore, the issue is not whether or not we will face persecution as Christians, but rather, how we will respond when we do.
Peter counsels his readers, and us, to do three things. First, expect persecution to come and rejoice when it does. We rejoice because of being identified with Christ. Second, glorify God because of this identity, rather than being ashamed. And third, continue walking in obedience to, while trusting in, our faithful God.
When we walk this way, people will not marvel at our power but God’s, and will be drawn to know this God who enables us to trust Him even in the midst of such persecution.