Last Sunday I began a series of messages from Peter’s first letter to the church. It is a letter of a pastor who cared deeply for the Christians in scattered churches in areas now known as western Turkey. Roman Emperor, Nero, had begun bringing severe persecution upon Christians using them as a scapegoat for the burning of Rome. Over half of the city lay in charred ruin and someone needed to be blamed. Why not those radical people who believed a man raised from the dead was now god? (Yes, I know I didn’t capitalize the “G”. It’s Nero’s perspective). Peter’s letter to those outlying churches was intended to both comfort and bolster them in a time when breathing the name Jesus could mean one’s death.
Peter reminds followers of the Way of essential truths. He does so in a way that helps them see their circumstance from a heavenly perspective. First, Peter talks about their living hope in Jesus Christ writing,
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:3-4)
Because Jesus was raised from the dead, believers could be confident that they, too, would be raised. This changes everything.
Faith in such a truth means that we see ourselves and the things of the world very differently. No longer is this life of ultimate value. In fact, for the Christian Peter exhorts us, “…live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” (1:17) The word “stranger” might be better translated as “aliens” or “sojourners”. This world is not our home. Our existence is not bound to breathing its air, drinking its water, or eating its product. Not, not at all! Instead, our home is with Christ in heaven.
I’m getting old enough that there are moments when I have thoughts about my journey is here is much closer to the end than the beginning. Sometimes, the temptation is to grieve over what will be lost with my passing and that it will “over”. But in Jesus, I have a living hope and so do you! We have a confident expectation that we will spend eternity in unseparated fellowship with God our Father, Jesus our Savior and Spirit who even now resides in us. That home doesn’t perish, spoil or fade.
Like Peter, I want to encourage you to view your life and the things of this life from a perspective made possible by Jesus’ dying and resurrection. Trust in Him, find solace and confidence in that He has gone to “prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) When we view life from this perspective, it changes everything! That’s why believers went to the stake or the lion’s den with joy. That’s why we can know a peace and joy the world cannot understand.
For His Kingdom, I am