Bear that Name

1 Peter 4:12-16 

12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.


Asians welcome Christmas and New Year with firecrackers. During celebration, the shepherds lighted firecrackers and scared their sheep. One lamb ran frantically and accidentally jumped into a deep dry well. The lamb cried loudly. The shepherds had no idea how to get the lamb out of the deep well. So, the shepherds decided to cover the deep well with dirt to bury the lamb. After a few times of throwing dirt into the well, the lamb stopped crying. The shepherds looked down the well; the lamb was shaking off the dirt on its back and stepping on top of the dirt. After few hours of putting dirt into the well, the lamb reached the mouth of the well and run to the flock of sheep.

Have you ever felt like someone had been throwing dirt at you, all kinds of dirt? Shake it off; use the dirt as stepping stone even struggles. We can get out of our deepest misery, if we keep on trusting that God uses all situations for our own good. Apostle Paul reminded us in Romans 8:28: 28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

You may have been crying to God, “Lord, please get me out of this dark tunnel of misery.” The Lord may have answered your prayer already, but you just cannot see light at the end of that dark tunnel. Why? You may have been confused and still paralyzed by your struggles. Pray that the Holy Spirit of Christ guides your steps, even when you may not know yet what else you could do. Christ declared in John 8:12, 12I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

Most often, we’re very obsessed of the outcome we hope to happen. Or, we just want immediate remedy to our misery. As believers of Christ, our behavior and attitude to struggles and difficulties in life are far more important to God. If the Lord grants the solution or remedy we hope for, it would just be bonus but not necessarily guaranteed.

Every person in this world will face similar problem. Solution could be similar too. Our attitude and behavior to problems testify if we are relying upon the Lord. Are you surprised at fiery ordeals and trials? Those are spiritual probations for testing our faith.

1.  Probation

12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 

Fiery ordeals could be extremely severe and dangerous testing of faith. Pray for stronger faith. Make sure you received the gift of faith. Faith must be tested to make sure we trust the Lord. When do you normally use your faith in God? Most often, we practice faith when situations are difficult, extreme and dangerous.

Instinctively, it is not innate for human beings to trust God. It’s not natural for us to rely upon the Lord. We instinctively do things we are inclined to do. And, God allows difficulties as probation to test us, if we really trust him. If you acknowledge that fiery ordeals are instrumental to test faith, you seek his help. Expect your faith to be tested.

Interestingly in the Greek manuscript, the English term “ordeal” has the same root word that was also translated in English as “temptation” in 1 Corinthians 10:13: 13No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Extremely dangerous or not, temptations and ordeals serve as probation to test if we received the gift of faith. We need to practically prove it, that we are not deceiving ourselves. When Christ returns, he takes genuine believers into heaven. That’s the time we practically prove if we enter heaven or not. Will you be included or left behind?

God won’t exempt us from fiery ordeals and temptations common to mankind. He wants us to personally prove and find out if we’re genuine believers or pretenders.

Many believers had memorized; they can easily recite what it said in Acts 16:31, 31Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household. But it is very sad reality that as much as we want our loved ones to be saved, they just ignore the gospel of Christ. We keep praying for the salvation of loved ones. Praying for the salvation of loved ones helps us to store up eternal treasures. Anyway, did you know that even the half-brothers of Jesus did not believe in him at first?

It has been narrated in John 7:3-5 3Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

Trivia question: Who among the half-brothers of Jesus became church leader? And, what are the names of the half-brothers of Jesus? Anyway, it’s not literally written if all the half-brothers and sisters of Jesus eventually believe in him as Lord and Savior.

Pertaining to Jesus, it stated in Matthew 13:55-56, 55“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas56Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 

According to Bible scholars, James the half-brother of Jesus became the first council chairman of the church of Jerusalem, and his brother Judas was believed to be the author of the Book of Jude. Nothing had been mentioned about his other half-brothers and sisters. It is possible that they believed and trusted him as Lord.

It is also possible that they didn’t. Maybe, they attended and participated in the church.

2.  Participation

13But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 

Material abundance and good health are common idea of blessing. Normally, we consider as blessedness when everything is well. God blesses us when we participate in the suffering of Christ. Participation in the suffering of Christ is not another option for us. As Christians, we bear the name of Christ. Participation in the suffering and insult of Christ brings overjoyed blessing in that day when Christ in his glory is revealed. Of course, we can only acknowledge such reality if the Spirit of glory and of God rests on us. The Holy Spirit of God himself inspires us to realize that participation in the suffering and insult of Christ is blessedness, so that we rejoice in such privilege.

Christians who sincerely practice their faith in Christ and devotedly participated in church ministries had suffered insults even from friends and relatives. Circumstances that are not favorable and sometimes embarrassing situations will occasionally happen to test our dignity, behavior and attitude as Christians.

Joseph and Mary

Let us learn from Joseph and Mary before Jesus was born in Matthew 1:18-19. 18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

Humankinds are social beings. Everyone wants to belong to social groups. Public disgrace is not easy for anyone to endure. To be disgraced publicly had caused many individuals to depart from this world or do undesirable foolishness.

In many generations, it’s disgraceful for unmarried women to be pregnant. Not just in Hebrew culture; there are cultures around the world where everyone has close fellowship with relatives, friends and neighbors. They are curious of each other’s life.

The situation of Mary brought her insult and disgrace, not only just to herself but to Joseph as well. Their relatives, friends and neighbors may have been sneering and laughing at their situation. No matter what, Joseph took Mary as his wife. Why?

Joseph trusted that it was the plan of God for him and Mary. So, what happens? The insult, disgrace and suffering they endured were forgotten, but their story had been repeatedly told again and again in all generations everywhere during Christmas season.

How about their friends, relatives and neighbors who may have laughed at them? Who among those who laughed at them had become popular?

Joseph and Mary suffered insults and disgrace because of Jesus Christ; but because they obeyed the Lord, Joseph and Mary will praise God forever, for sure.

3.  Praise

15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 

Do you have a disgraceful story of sufferings and insults? You are not alone. All of us suffered and were insulted at one time. As Christian, expect sufferings and insults anytime. Pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit when you are suffering and insulted. He will produce joyful peace and praise in your heart. Christ offers us rest in Matthew 11:28:  28Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Everyone has problem and burden. Christ offers rest from any burden. He allows burdens for us to seek his help. When we recognize that the Lord gives us rest from burdens, it will serve as our practical proof that there is true rest in Christ. Christians should testify through personal experience that there is real and true rest that can only be found in him. Have you ever experienced rest from your personal burden, yet?


What do you do on Christmas Eve? How do you normally celebrate Christmas? Can we find rest in Christ after spending the night celebrating Christmas without sleep?

Christmas celebration is the most wonderful season of the year for Christians. We cherish our fellowship with friends, relatives and fellow Christians. We can have games, fun, laughter, endless stories that could have been repeated many times in the past.

Why is it so joyful when we celebrate Christmas season? Was it because of the gift you have received or given? Was it because of the special food you ate or cooked?

Anytime, you may give or receive gift; you may eat the same special food on different occasions, but the gladness on Christmas celebration is on different level.

Do you love such wonderful feeling while celebrating Christmas? That wonderful feeling is just partial experience of the amazing and wonderful feeling that we’ll forever experience when we finally enter heaven and see God face to face. Can you accept that? Make sure that you genuinely believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Today, let everyone of us re-affirm our faith and re-dedicate our life to the Lord. Together, let us declare our commitment to trust Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Let’s pray: Our gracious and loving heavenly Father, we thank you for sending you precious Son Jesus Christ on the first Christmas and let him sacrificed on the cross for the forgiveness of our sin. Forgive me of my sins and anything I did that is not pleasing to you. Lord Jesus Christ, today, I re-affirm my faith in you as my personal Lord and Savior. I re-dedicate my life to you for your mission purposes. Holy Spirit of God, please guide me, inspire me, and empower me to be a living testimony of your grace and love.

            And I pray all these things in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Amen!

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