When you suffer, writes Peter (1 Peter 3) better to suffer ‘for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.’ The Church is more and more spoken against, sometimes deservedly, but often not so. How does this affect our role as witnesses to Christ? This first of three brief posts on the theme of opposition comes from John Piper.
John Piper writes: “Can the gospel spread and thousands be converted, and churches grow, and love abound where Christianity is continually spoken against? Yes. It not only can; it has.
“… How do we know this? Consider the way Luke reports the state of the church in the book of Acts. When Paul finally gets to Rome near the end of his life, he invites the ‘local leaders of the Jews’ to come and hear his gospel. What these leaders say about the ‘sect’ of Christians is very significant. They say, “With regard to this sect we know that it is spoken against everywhere.” (Acts 28:22).
“This is not surprising to disciples who knew that Jesus said, ‘You will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake’ (Matthew 24:9). And: ‘Woe to you, when all men speak well of you’ (Luke 6:26). And: ‘If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!’ (Matthew 10:25).
“The early church was an embattled church. Yes, there were seasons of calm (Acts 9:31); but that was the exception. Most of the time there were slanders and misunderstandings and accusations and persecutions, not to mention internal disputes about ethics and doctrine. Virtually all of Paul’s letters reflect controversy in the church as well as affliction from outside. The point is not that this is desirable, but that it need not hinder great power and growth. In fact, it may be the occasion and reason for great power and growth.”
From John Piper in Pierced by the Word.
16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 1Peter3:16-17 ESV