Peter went on to write, ” If you suffer as a Christian, don’t be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that Name.” (I Peter 4:16) Thus, when I look at both these verses, I see that when I stand my ground and do what’s ethically upright, I’m adhering and conforming to God’s authority, rather than the world’s…while also realizing that I don’t need to apologize or be ashamed for doing what’s right. Suffering for the sake of Christ means the world will condemn, ridicule, and reject you…but it also means you will be blessed.
This verse reminded me of the old saying, “monkey see, monkey do” which then led me into researching mob mentality. Mob, herd, or pack mentality describes how people can be influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors on a largely emotional, rather than rational basis. Just as sheep blindly follow the flock no matter where they go just because that’s what the flock is doing, people tend to take up the behaviors of people around them. (Think of a big sporting event with lots of alcohol and passionate fans.) In a large mob, personal responsibility wanes as we lose self-awareness and we become more willing to engage in dangerous/risky behaviors. Also in a large group there’s more physical anonymity which can lead to the lax of social inhibitions. But this verse tells us not to imitate what we know is not right…rather, to say No and not apologize for our decision. For just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it right.
As Believers, we all want to do the right thing…to use practical wisdom and our moral compass to seek out God’s ultimate plan and purpose for our life. So how can we stay the course? I Corinthians 15:33 gives us the best advise – “Bad company corrupts good character.” For it’s very hard to remain humble and unpretentious in spirit when you only hang around with people that are arrogant, haughty, and vain. You may think you’re not being affected by their proud disposition…but more is rubbing off than you think.
God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows the secrets of my heart,(Psalm 44:21) and the way that I take.(Job 23:10) There isn’t one detail about us that catches God by surprise. For every one of our days here on earth are numbered and known by Him intimately. And as we walk in right standing before Him…even if troubles and hardships come…it tells us here, God will bless the impossible and grant mercy to the hopeless.
So what exactly were the apostles doing that would land them in jail? It tells us that they were performing many miraculous signs and wonders…healing the sick and tormented…and that many were coming to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. They were doing good stuff, but they were also persecuted for it. Contention within the Body can degenerate into negative emotions that desire to make war against the good they see others doing…simply because it’s not them performing it. They feel threatened, so they attempt to discount and belittle rather than praising God for what He’s doing. Doing good regardless…it tells us in I Peter 3:17 that we may have to suffer in doing good…and that we shouldn’t become weary in doing it. (Galatians 6:9) I pray we all may have the boldness to continue doing good no matter the cost.
The premise of these verses is pretty simple…stop doing wrong, learn to do right. In other words, practice the truth…doing the right thing when you see injustice happening. But this is usually where fear jumps in and stops us from becoming involved. We know what the Lord would want us to do…but stepping into an unknown situation can be scary. But if we do choose to walk away, God sees it as indifference and blatant disregard for the oppressed. The Lord has called all Believers to champion the causes of the vulnerable among us. Let’s not allow fear and doubt to stop us from practicing the truth.