Living Hope (part 2)
But you are a chosen people,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people belonging to God,
that you may declare the praises of him
who called you out of darkness
into his wonderful light.
1 PETER 2:9 (NIV)
Peter’s first letter, written to persecuted believers scattered throughout Asia Minor, is rich with real hope. This isn’t shallow “feel good” material; it is a deep well of wisdom, courage and need-specific counsel. So what do you say to Christian friends facing a prolonged season of pain, rejection or outright persecution? Peter’s letter offers a place to start.
Remind them of who they truly are! They are of inexpressible, surpassing value to God and his eternal kingdom (2:9-10).
But you are a chosen people …
Urge them to concentrate on the inner life, even in the midst of pressure and pain, recognizing that this will give opportunity to speak for God (3:13-15).
… But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord …
Encourage them to adopt the same mind-set that strengthened Jesus Christ as he faced suffering (4:1).
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves with the same attitude …
Encourage them to let pain and pressures turn them outward in love and hospitality, rather than inward in self absorption (4:8-9).
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins…
Urge them to humble themselves before God during their disappointment or difficult circumstances and remind them that Jesus Christ invites us to cast all our anxiety upon him (5:5-7).
… Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Challenge them to stand firm in the face of Satan’s attacks, remembering that they are not alone in their distress (5:8-10).
Be self-controlled and alert… Resist him, standing firm in the faith …
None of Peter’s counsel is sugar-coated. None of it is trite. But all of it speaks mountains of hope to our hearts. And isn’t that what we all most need?
And the God of all grace,
who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
after you have suffered a little while,
will himself restore you and make you
strong, firm and steadfast.
To him be the power for ever and ever.
1 PETER 5:10 (NIV)