1 Peter 4:15-19
Entrusting Our Souls to a Faithful Creator
Peter continues his teaching about suffering as Christians in this pagan world when suddenly a horrifying thought passes his mind: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.” There could be no greater shame than for a Christian to suffer justly for crimes. Less than a century later when Christians were persecuted under Antoninus Pius for the crime of simply being Christians, Justin Martyr wrote, “We demand that the charges against Christians be investigated, and that, if these be substantiated, they be punished as they deserve” (“First Apology,” chapter 3, Ante-Nicene Fathers, 1:163). The Church has always held that people who break just laws should be punished regardless who they are—which makes the offense all the more shameful when the culprit is one of the brethren. However, the Apostle tells us, to suffer as a Christian is not shameful in the least (as a pagan would consider it) but a reason for glorifying God. We have spoken to this in previous devotions; only let us affirm once again that in suffering so, we most identify ourselves with Christ.
But Peter quickly turns from this to a more important matter: Coming Judgment. He writes, “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And ‘If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’” It’s as if he were saying, “But enough of this! Suffering or not, judgment is coming.” And if I may borrow from Paul, “Set your mind on things that are above” (Colossians 3:2). Here is the call to again embrace our pilgrim status in this world, for we will soon find ourselves before the judgment seat of Christ. This is a matter for rejoicing. Granted, we are scarcely saved and that only by the blood of Christ, but how shall matters go for the wicked? It is dreadful even to consider, but then that’s how sobering coming judgment is—it places matters in the proper perspective.
And so in light of the sufferings of this world over which the Christian has so little control and in light of the coming of our Lord who shall proclaim us washed and cleansed and ready to inherit an eternal Kingdom of righteousness and justice and in light of the retribution that God will then bring upon the wicked who have profaned His holy name and persecuted his chosen ones, let us do what we can do and which no one can hinder: Entrust our souls to our faithful Creator while doing good. What more is there to do? And what else would you rather do?