Rejoicing in Suffering (1 Peter 4:12-19)
Imagine having your Sunday service on the steps of the parliament house! This might not be as fun as it seems, especially when the weather isn’t being kind. However, this is the reality for two churches in Bogor, West Java. The members of GKI Yasmin and HKBP Filadelfia were forced to be creative because they were not allowed to hold services in their own church buildings. So they hold their weekly services (and other services such as Christmas) in front of the Presidential Palace in Bogor.
Complaints from locals around the churches and claims of the churches breaking building codes were some of the reasons given as to why these churches were shut down. The Indonesian Supreme Court had ruled in favour of reinstating the use of buildings for both churches, however the local governments (and some officials who had since left their posts) basically just ignored this ruling. Throughout all this, the congregations have been faithful in attending their services out in the open, in front of the palace.
Apostle Peter’s words at the start of this section will no doubt be a source of encouragement and strength for them (v12-14). As I read their stories, Peter’s words rang even more true. They are praising God and rejoicing in their sufferings, and for that they’re blessed (v14). They are not ashamed as they return week after week to worship (v16), and they continue to be faithful and do good for the sake of their (and our) Creator (v19). I hope that we can all take encouragement from Peter’s words and from these examples set by our fellow Christians in West Java. Let us not let trials stop us gathering together, but let us continue to rejoice and praise God!