Monday, May 01, 2006

1 Peter 5:1-14

In the early 60s A.D., approximately thirty years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, Peter wrote this letter for the church communities in Asia Minor (modern western Turkey). In general, he wrote to encourage followers of Jesus. Hence at the end of his letter, to strengthen them in faith and life, Peter repeated certain themes elaborated in previous passages: suffering; steadfastness; and glory.

As Peter stirringly exclaimed at the beginning of his letter, God in great mercy has given the followers of Jesus new life. The re-creation of the world has begun in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and we begin to experience the stupendous gift of living in this glorious existence now, with forever the only horizon. Thus God sows hope that surges in our hearts and in our Spirit-sprung communities.

Yet not all people and powers in this world welcome God’s good news in Jesus. Jesus suffered and died because of this, as Peter reminded his readers. Consequently, Peter went on, those who faithfully live Jesus in the world may also suffer and perhaps even die because of opposition to Jesus.

Nevertheless, God vindicated Jesus by raising him from the dead. God also vindicates followers of Jesus by giving them new life in the resurrection of Jesus – both here and now, and in the new heaven and earth to come. The day of glory has begun, continues to strengthen, and will, in God’s good time, saturate all of existence forever. We know it now truly. We will know it then fully.

Therefore, we are to be steadfast. Amid skepticism and disbelief, we are to hold fast to the truth of God’s good news in Jesus. Amid opposition and hostility, we are to pursue, as individuals and as communities, the qualities and behaviors of the kingdom of God, rooted in all-pervasive love for God and our neighbor.

Living all of this together – suffering, steadfastness, glory – can be difficult. Yet we can take heart from Peter’s long-ago letter of encouragement – take heart that God’s glory does indeed precede, infuse, and await us, even if now we suffer for the sake of Jesus.

Gregory Strong

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