Easter 4 Sunday
1 Peter 2:20-21
“For what kind of fame is it if you endure beatings for transgressions? But when you suffer and endure for the sake of doing good, this is grace with God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for us and left us an example, that you are to follow in his steps.”
It cannot be any different on earth: Once someone has become a Christian and begins to confess the faith with words and life, the world – being the loyal faithful servant of the eternal enemy of Christ, the devil – is not pleased and takes it as disrespect and shame if one does not speak, live, and does as the world would have it. It becomes angry and begins to persecute, torture, and, where possible, even kill such people. This is why you also often hear the world’s wise men, the mockers, say that Christ could have had peace, if only he had wanted. One can say that about all Christians as well: They too would have peace and good times, if they only let themselves be taught and made themselves agreeable and like the world. But what is one to do? This is how it goes: If you speak and do the truth, you create anger and enmity. Even the ancient pagans said that. Yet it is not the fault of those who speak the truth, but that of those who do not want to hear it. Is one not to preach the truth at all and let all people go to the devil because of such silence? Who can take this responsibly on? Who wants to do that? If you want to be a good Christian who intends to live forever after this life and to help others to achieve the same, you must truly act like a Christian and say where you intend to go and show to the world how it walks and the wide road to hell and eternal death. If you do that, you have angered the world and the devil is at your throat. Now, it cannot be any different that those who want to confess Christ and help the world must, as St. Peter says here, endure the enmity of the devil and all those who cling to the devil for his service and good deeds. Therefore, we must be mindful of having patience since the world very much hates and is hostile to our doctrine and life, which is why it abuses, slanders, and persecutes us in an extreme way. Now, St. Peter wants to exhort and entice the Christians for this, and also comfort them with excellent words and causes. He, first, points to their calling to remind them for what reason and for what purpose they have become Christians, saying: “You must firstly think that you, if you believe in Christ, are also required to confess him. You are in the holy, divine calling of the entire Christian church that, by confessing Christ, is to praise God and promote his kingdom.” This calling consists simply in doing good and suffering evil in return. The Christians are to be such a condemned people before the world that is met with the greatest hostility and that is ordained and established to run the devil’s and the world’s gauntlet, as Psalm 44:22 says: “For your sake we are killed daily and are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered,” or like sacrificial sheep that have been set aside and that are not allowed to go to the pasture or to breed, but only for the purpose of being executed one after another. This is why he now wants to say: “What do you want to do, dear Christians? Do you want to be in the world without enduring any evil for your good deeds? Do you want to get angry instead and also become evil and do evil in response to their evil deeds? Do you not hear? You have been called to this – your baptism and Christian faith result in your suffering this. For this is why you have sworn off the devil and confessed Christ.” … Here it is true that if you want to have fire, you must also have smoke. If you want to be a Christian and child of God, you must also suffer what is done to you because of it.