This fall, our e-bulletin focus is: “What God has made new – themes from 1 Peter“. Peter wrote his letter to a beleaguered church. They were subject to: various trials (1:6), slanderous accusation (2:12; 3:16), evil and reviling (3:9), fiery ordeals (4:12), and insults for the name of Christ (4:14). In spite of that, there was no lessening of the demands placed upon the early church as though we don’t need to live and look like Jesus when the going gets tough. In fact Peter calls the church to love God’s truth and each other all the more: “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart. (1:22)”
How are we to bless when persecuted, or love when reviled? How can we bear the image of Christ in such a frequently anti-Christ culture? How can we joyously serve and generously give when our own lives seem so needy? If this is the call upon the church, and thus the call to us, we need a power outside of ourselves. So before looking at Peter’s instructions to the church, we will spend the next eleven weeks considering the wonderful blessings God gives us that enable us to walk in the ‘newness of life’ (Romans 6:4) provided by being in Christ.
Peter wastes no time telling us of these new blessings. By the third verse he is praising God for our new hope, a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus”. Hope is a powerful motivator. The federal election campaign kicked off this week, and you can pretty much guarantee every party leader will in some fashion pitch their campaign as a campaign of hope. Unfortunately, the youthful optimism we often have for human driven change and social justice gets slowly eroded over time by broken promises and underwhelming performance. As Christians, we must fight this tendency toward cynicism by rooting ourselves in a new kind of hope, a hope of different source and substance.
Why does Peter rejoice for this new living hope? Because its reality, source, and nature make it unlike all human “cross your finger” hope! He tells us this living hope is as real and reliable as the fact of the resurrection of Jesus (1:3). Its source is God himself, and you don’t receive this hope because of any action or intention – it is according to God and “according to his great mercy”. Though we are fickle and weak, God is steadfast and mighty, and so we can trust that God’s hope for us is never “here today, gone tomorrow”! Finally, the nature of this new living hope is eternal and enduring. Our hope is toward an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading (1:4). As one theologian put it: death proof, sin proof, and time proof! And if that wasn’t enough, we are guarded by God himself, through faith, for eternal salvation (1:5). Praise God!
Missional Action Prayer: Lord, thank you that according to your great mercy you have given me a true, eternal, and enduring hope in Christ. Help me to live in accordance with this new living hope!