Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Peter 4:12
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” – 1 Peter 4:12
Throughout the years, many Christians have suffered for the cause of Christ. We see it all over the world today, especially in Islamic countries, China, North Korea and various countries in Africa and Asia. In the first century, the Jewish leadership hated Christians because they were leading many Jews away from the Jewish faith to Christ and His teachings. Throughout centuries following the death and resurrection of Christ, Christians have been put to death simply for believing in and following Jesus’ teachings. And now, in the United States, there is a movement to punish churches if they do not follow some of the evil ways being accepted by our leadership and many who reject the teachings of Christ.
What Peter is writing about here is that we, as Christians, should expect hard times because of out faith. As we read in our focus verse, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12. He is saying this should not be a surprise, for our beliefs and teachings go radically against what many leaderships throughout the centuries. In Jesus’ time, the Jews hated Christ and hated them who follows Him.
In ancient Rome, when they took over a city or nation, they would allow the current religions in that land to continue being followed and their gods to be worshipped as long as Caesar was put first. However, if a new religion were introduced then this was a violation of the law and Rome would require them to remove this religion. This was the main reason Rome went against Christianity for it was considered a new religion in a land they already ruled.
Peter then takes this to another level. Not only are we to not be surprised , but we are to rejoice. “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:13. The idea here is not that we should want to suffer, but that in our suffering we are identified with Christ in His suffering. Paul put it this way in his letter to the Philippians. “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11. In suffering for the cause of Christ, we can become like Him, even to the point of dying for your faith. To the church at Colossae Paul wrote, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.” Colossians 1:24-26.
Here in the United States we are starting to see many Christian principles and beliefs being looked at as hate speech and there are many hints that, though we are Christians, we may need to reject various beliefs to avoid punishment by the government. Currently, this is something that is coming, but there is no specifics at this time. However, it is prophesied in scripture that Christians will go through trials and tribulations because of our faith, so we know these days are coming. And when we are persecuted now for what we believe, and in the future as the day of His return moves closer. We must understand that we will be persecuted. However, Luke speaks of a great day coming, and in this we can rejoice in our suffering. “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:25-28.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.