Dr. Zach Crook
Have you ever looked around at the evil and despair in the world and felt a sense of hopelessness? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the bad news headlines and the negativity on social media. We can look from one continent to another and see a range of wars, natural disasters, and humanitarian crises. How, then, can we respond with hope amidst this pain? Peter, an apostle of Christ, wrote the book of 1 Peter as a letter to persecuted Christians going through many trials and hardships. As we examine his greeting to these churches, we can be encouraged too.
In 1 Peter 1:1-2, he writes, “To those chosen, living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you.”
These verses seem simple, so they’re easy to overlook as we rush to the meat of the letter. However, what Peter is saying here in his greeting still applies to us today. He is reminding these exiles and scattered churches of the hope they have through the blood of Jesus.
We, too, are Exiled Christians
Throughout this letter, Peter teaches the scattered church how we can stay on mission and live for the Lord. In 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us this world is not our home. As Christians living in an unrepentant world, our lives should look different from those around us. Even though we are exiles, we’re also ambassadors. We live in a world that tells us we need to conform to the culture, but Peter tells us to stand firm on the Word of God and live boldly for Christ.
Though it’s sometimes more comfortable to conform, you’re not supposed to fit in. Christians are going to be different. So, as Peter sees persecution increasing, he encourages the church that no matter what’s going on in culture, they can turn to Jesus. We can live boldly for Him and trust Him when the world feels hopeless.
We are Chosen
In the first two verses of this letter, Peter reminds the believers they are chosen. We are also chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. There’s nothing that we can do to save ourselves. God loved us enough that He sent his one and only Son to die on the cross for our sins and resurrect from the dead to offer us salvation and redemption from our sins.
If you’ve ever felt forgotten or abandoned by God, remember that these feelings are doubts from the enemy. The truth is that you have been chosen, and God is with you. He walks alongside you in the hardships you face and provides comfort and strength when it’s painful to be different from the world around you. Knowing this is your identity in Christ can give you the confidence to walk with your head high, even when people ridicule you for standing out.
We are Redeemed by a Triune God
In just a couple of sentences, Peter summarizes the gospel work that was accomplished by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He shows us redemption is a triune activity. Through the gospel, we see Trinitarian love on display. The Father sent the Son, the Son accomplished the work, and it’s brought to life in the believer through the Holy Spirit. We’ve been chosen by the Father, we’ve been purchased by the Son, and we’ve been set apart by the Holy Spirit.
We can see all of the Trinity in the work of our salvation. If we can focus on what God has done for us, we can continue to walk in the grace and love He’s extended to us. In our walk, we can extend that same grace to others and share the good news of the gospel with those around us. Because redemption is a triune activity, meditating on the work God has done allows us to know Him more fully!
We Have Grace Extended to Us
The end of Peter’s greeting mentions a grace and peace that is multiplied to us. He’s reminding the church that we don’t get what we deserve because of our sins. The wages of sin is death. Therefore, we deserve to be eternally separated from God forever in hell. However, because of Jesus and Christ’s blood, we get grace and peace multiplied to us. How incredible is that?
We can have peace even amid persecution, difficulty, sin, and brokenness. We will walk through struggles, but in the midst of those, we can have hope because we understand the truth of the gospel. Because Jesus has forgiven and redeemed us, we don’t need to hold on to condemnation. Instead, we can dwell in grace and extend Christ’s never ending love to a world in desperate need of a savior.
Because of Christ’s work on the cross and the Trinity’s participation in our redemption, our identity in Christ is secure. We are chosen, loved, forgiven, and redeemed. Through the blood of Jesus, we can have hope, peace, and grace even as we go through all kinds of trials and hardships. If you’re facing a difficult situation in your life now, you can ask Jesus to give you strength and perseverance to stay strong and hold fast to your beliefs. As Jesus guides us, we can walk with confidence and be different than the world around us. When we do, others will look at the light we shine and want to know how we have hope in such a hopeless world. This is what it’s all about!