Read: 1 Peter 4:1-6
They are surprised when you do not join them. (v. 4)
Some suffering is common to many. Disease or natural disasters come to mind. Other suffering comes from persecution by those opposed to faith. Peter invites a different kind of suffering in this text: a suffering by choice that gives up passions of the flesh so prevalent in our world. He calls the list of passions in verse 3 a “flood of debauchery” (v. 4) that will require an accounting before God, who is “ready to judge the living and the dead” (v. 5).
This kind of suffering requires something from believers and elicits a response from the world. It requires us to “arm” ourselves like Christ who “suffered in the flesh” (v. 1). The “arms” of Christ are the complete opposite of arms so often seen in our warring world. Christ armed himself with weapons like humility, meekness, and, ultimately, sacrifice. Those kinds of arms can only be put on if we believe that the value of what is gained in Christ is greater than the passions we give up. Indeed, 1 Peter 1:4 implies that our inheritance through Christ brings far more joy than anything the world can promise.
With arms like Christ, the response elicited will be the “surprise” of verse 4. Does your life and my life surprise people? Mine is not always all that surprising. I do know, however, that the more time I spend contemplating God’s promises in his Word, the more ready I am to choose the kind of suffering that reveals my eternal joy. —Jon Opgenorth
As you pray, ask God for arms like Christ.
About the Author
Rev. Jon Opgenorth serves as president of Words of Hope. Previously, he served for 18 years as senior pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. In preparation for ministry, he received a BA in Religion from Northwestern College, and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary.