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Wrapping Up 1 Peter

By Steve Gregg

As we wrap up our summer series in 1 Peter this Sunday,  I am struck that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Walking with Christ is both an unbelievable privilege and,  at times, a tremendous challenge. It was that way 2000 years ago and it is still that way today, a fact that really shouldn’t surprise us, but it does, or at least it does me. But how could it not? Peter told those early Christians that in coming to Christ they had become sojourners and foreigners, spiritual aliens in their own country. Their new status in Christ, arrived at by grace through faith, had fundamentally changed everything.  They were now part of a new community, or as Peter wrote:

“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

My prayer is that one of the chief takeaways for us as a church would be that we come away from our time in Peter with a renewed sense of what it means to proclaim the excellencies of the One who has called us. We have the tremendous privilege of being ones who have received such amazing mercy. We are now His possession, but not as His property but as His children and heirs. That is stunning. I confess I don’t always live with that reality in the front of my mind. Peter believed this truth was crucial both for the church’s ability to stay faithful under outside pressure, and as an essential part of their witness, even to those persecuting them.    

To put it another way, growing in our understanding of what it means to be the Body of Christ is for our own good and for the good of an increasingly hostile (or simply disinterested) world. As this wonderful truth sinks deeper and deeper into our bones, Peter says we should rejoice (1:6,8), love each other (1:22), set aside our former passions that ruled us (2:11), be engaged in good deeds (2:12), willingly submit to others to serve them (2:13,18), willingly suffer for Christ and his reputation (4:1), show hospitality to each other gratefully (4:9), and to model humility (5:5-6). Seeking to live this way is not only good for us but also for our unbelieving neighbors.

Peter tells us that this is the surest way to protect and strengthen our faith, to stand firm. It is also how we put the Gospel that redeemed us on display for our neighbors to see.  When we respond to opposition this way, we make the gospel more plausible because we are giving our neighbors a small taste of it. Creekside, thanks for the many ways you demonstrate that Gospel reality to Gainesville and beyond. As we enter a new school year, let’s continue to take lessons from 1 Peter and allow them to bear fruit in our lives. He who has redeemed us is faithful and He is able to do this.

Finally, so much of 1 Peter addresses Christians and suffering. It’s impossible to hear that and not think this week of our brothers and sisters in Haiti and Afghanistan. Please be in prayer for them and the many people suffering in those countries.

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