Do We Belong to Jesus? Or Do We Really Belong to the World, in Jesus’ Name?



April 8, 2022

1 Peter 4:12-16 NIV

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.


Under Nero, Christians were under severe persecution, even to the point of being crucified and burned. They were mocked as haters of humankind, ridiculed, and even tortured throughout the Roman Empire simply for identifying as a Christian. Peter says to them something we need to hear today. 

do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

He effectively tells them persecution is a sign you are “doing it right.” Persecution is the rule, not the exception. Stop being surprised by haters. It’s interesting how these early Christians were called haters by the world around them. The irony is they were actually people of deep and profound love. The world hated them for this because their lives, simply by being light, stood in stark contrast to the world and its darkness. I suspect Peter was remembering this  lesson from Jesus:

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:17-18)

On the regular, I hear from friends around the world who are actively experiencing this reality. It gives me no pleasure to warn those of us in the United States—this will increasingly become the case for us—at least in the Church Jesus is building among us. We are in the early stages of a great pruning of the “church” in America. Having come through the long winter of Christendom, a period wherein the church effectively pushed its will on the State (and vice-versa), we find ourselves waking up in the ruins. Though this period gave many gifts to the world, its lasting legacy is lifeless institutions who are Christian in name only—nominal (and often quite well endowed) organizations who carry forms and vestiges of religion while denying its reality and power. Sadly, so many local churches fall into this category—advancing forms of godliness while denying the power of God. And so many of us, clergy and laity alike, are caught in the machinations of their motions. 

Do we belong to Jesus? Or do we really belong to the world “in Jesus name?” This is the pruning I refer to. I see two primary issues, one of which we see in today’s text (meddling), which we will deal with tomorrow and the other one (false teaching) coming up on the docket the day after that. Broadly speaking, meddling attempts to conform the world to the values of the church, while false teaching attempts to conform the church to the values of the world. Meddling trends toward conservatism. False teaching trends toward progressivism.

Both approaches create rot from the inside out. Finally, and at risk of offending virtually everyone and their mother, we see the massive faultlines of these strategies exposed very prominently across the church in the present-day highly confusing matters of sexuality and gender and to a lesser degree on matters of race and diversity. Both strategies (i.e. conservatism and progressivism) seem reasonable, plausible, and even godly to their adherents, but neither are viable strategies for the Church Jesus is building. The Church must have biblical theology, period. 

Jesus is not building his Church on the fault lines of the ideological frameworks of conservatism or progressivism. This is where we are so stuck—drifting toward legalism on one side and license on the other. Ideologies inexorably lead to idolatries. This is why our churches have fallen deaf, blind and mute—just like the idols they salute. And idolatry inevitably lead to injustice. What we are experiencing now across the church (in America) is not persecution but infighting. The persecution is coming. 

This is why Peter will soon remind us that judgment must begin with the house of God. Jesus builds his church on one thing alone: The rock of Peter’s whole-hearted confession—You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. And as he told us earlier, Jesus will be the cornerstone or the stumbling block. There is no in between. As Hudson Taylor famously said, “Jesus will be Lord of all or he will not be Lord at all.” 

This is why the world hates Christians. 

However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

Wake up sleeper and rise from the dead. . . 

Your turn: 


Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. I don’t too much sense the the world hates me. It leaves me wondering if maybe I belong to the world and don’t even know it. I have gotten along pretty well for most of my life. If I am honest, I’m not sure I want to be hated by the world. I am open, though. I want to belong to you so completely that I am actually sharing in the fellowship of your suffering, becoming like you in your death. This is a mystery Jesus. Holy Spirit bring me into the mystery for I know this is life in the glory of God. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.


I know we are delving deep here and all this ideology to idolatry to injustice line of thought is kind of beyond “morning devotion” territory. But this is not exactly a morning devotional is it. It’s more of a wake up call, right ;0) I know I’m frustrating some of you. Please hang in with us. We are on a journey. Any questions? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt



Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.


  1. J D, I know that I’m just one voice, but it’s been my experience to read within this particular series the very thoughts that the Lord has been laying on my heart. What you’ve written so far is like a “voice crying out in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord!”. Many will hear it and respond with repentance and faith, most will not. Such has been the history of the Jesus movement from its beginning. One can already hear the sound of the Vine Dressers shears as we witness the dead branches being cut loose to be gathered into the fire. Today’s Daily Text is well said. Keep on keeping on.

  2. Wow Brother- the Holy Spirit spoke His precious wisdom thru you today. Wow wow wow. I received a light in my darkness and things really make sense now. As a pastor, I feel the abandoning of the Holy Spirit with His power and strength, and its replacement with quizzes and rituals and fake identifying of talents as gifts show the church’s (and my) cowardice to step into the uncontrollable Wildness of our so-far-above us God and be carried by His current where He wills, not where we do. Fear and desire to control have hamstrung the church. Your writing has challenged me to offer the “pure spiritual milk” to the beloved God has put in my care. May God continue to fill you, encourage you, strengthen you, and protect you.

  3. Profound post! It takes courage to refuse to take a side, but rather to expose the flawed beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of both conservatism and progressivism. No human ideology is perfect and even if there was a perfect ideology, we humans would ruin it’s perfection by our flawed implementation of it. Jesus builds His ekklesia (the Greek word that was the name of the interactive city council in Greek city-states that is translated as “church” in most English Bibles) on the rock of supernatural revelation from God, independent of human governments and ideologies.

    If the kingdom of God (body of Christ–ekklesia) has an ideology, it would be revelationism–individuals being continually led by and obeying the Holy Spirit–not by the flesh (human desires, feelings, and ideologies). That’s the difference between the kingdom of God and the world. People either follow and obey the voice of the living God or we follow and obey our desires, feelings, and ideologies. We can’t consistently do both at the same time.

    When the Holy Spirit is allowed to freely lead, carnality recedes. When our carnality begins to recede, it causes both carnal conservatives and carnal progressives to be uncomfortable enough to confront and persecute us. We get it from both sides. But then, Jesus calls that a blessing. Don’t forget to count your unconfortable blessings today!