Daily Devotional – Tuesday, April 6, 2021
“So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. 2 You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. 3 You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols. 4 Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. 5 But remember that they will have to face God, who stands ready to judge everyone, both the living and the dead.” (1 Peter 4:1-5, NLT)
My morning devotional reading found me in 1 Peter and I couldn’t help but notice just how much the fourth chapter remains a challenge for those of us living 2000 years later. Peter tells us that we should ‘arm ourselves with the same attitude as Jesus when it comes to our readiness to endure physical pain.’ It is thought that Peter wrote this letter to believers from Rome, shortly before the systemic persecutions of Christians by Nero that saw many become the martyrs of the early church. Peter does not have a martyr-complex, he simply recognizes the experiences that many were being forced to endure because of their faith in Christ. He does not advise them to pray away the possibility of suffering for their faith, but to prepare themselves with the same attitude as Christ to be ready to suffer, even physically.
Their changed lives mark them as targets by those who were former friends. It is much easier to destroy another’s reputation than to give up sinful habits and so these new believers should not be surprised when their desire to do God’s will causes old friends to slander them in their attempt to discredit the believers’ faith. But Peter encourages them to be ‘finished with sin,’ for everyone will have to meet God face to face for his judgement. Only those who have lived a life for Christ will be judged guiltless because of their belief in, proclamation of and obedience to his Lordship.
As the recipients of Peter’s letters today, I suspect many of us balk at the thought of having to suffer—whether from the slander of former friends or physically for our faith. We have made far more preparation to ‘demand rights,’ ‘fight for freedom,’ and ‘stand our ground’ no matter the cost. While I fully support seeking justice, I do not believe that the current focus of many believers—me, me and me—lines up with God’s word as provided to us through Peter’s pen. Are we prepared to give up our own desires? Are we anxious to do the will of God? Peter tells us the proof of this is in having the same attitude as Jesus, part of which was his willingness to suffer for others according to God’s will. And don’t worry about non-believers’ responses to your obedience—we will each be brought before the Judge and his perfect justice will be served.
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!