I haven’t had as much time to study 1 Peter as I did Colossians, but I feel that in many ways the truth of this book of the Bible has had a significant impact on my life. I will try to unpack some of that as briefly as possible here.
Hope and suffering are traditionally seen as the two themes of this book, and I would certainly agree with that. As I looked more deeply into how Peter presents those themes, another revelation came to me. There seem to be 3 main sections of thought in the book: 1:1 through 2:11 covers the calling for the church to be a people set apart for God, a holy chosen people, a priesthood of believers. In many ways, Peter seems to be referring to the churches reading his letter as the New Israel. In the way that Israel faced persecution from the pagan nations that surrounded them, the readers of this book are going to suffer at the hands of the pagan world around them. In the midst of this, Peter challenges the reader to do good while they suffer unjustly. This is to be their witness against those who would falsely accuse them in the same way Jesus stood righteously in the face of those who falsely accused Him. If Jesus suffered for doing what is right, those who have chosen to follow him are expected to do the same. The hope in the midst of all this is God’s promise that He will vindicate those who have suffered because of their allegiance to Him. In the same way, Jesus was vindicated when he rose from death. Christians may be vindicated in this life, but this will more likely happen when Jesus comes again. In the meantime, the church is here to humbly care for one another in love, helping each weather the trials they face.
So what does this mean for us today? Primarily if you choose to allow Jesus to be the Lord of your life and seek to live as a member of the kingdom of God, it will put you in conflict with the kingdom of the world that surrounds you. For some that looks like real physical persecution that may lead to death. For many of you who are reading this post, that is not likely going to be the case. Instead, you may face rejection by friends and even family that cannot understand why you live the way you do. As someone who doesn’t take a pay check for what I am doing here, it can be hard to explain why I would come here, give of my time and pay to do it all. Actually the difficultly to understand this concept has made coming into this country difficult at times. The challenge may be to look at your life and consider if you are living for God in a way that puts you at tension with the world, or if are you compromising so that things will go more smoothly. If you are facing the tension, are you doing so with integrity?
If you are suffering, I hope you can trust that even if you don’t see vindication in this life, God will vindicate you. When you see the glory of Jesus face to face, all that you are suffering now will pale in comparison. If you know someone who is struggling, humble yourself and serve them in love. I pray that you would take the time to read over 1 Peter – I’d love to hear what you think! I’ll be glad to know that you’ve taken the time to study this amazing book.