I Peter is a “Dear Exiles” letter.
This is Peter. Walk on water (a little), cut a guy’s ear off, cussing out a servant girl, deny me three times, day of Pentecost preacher to thousands – THAT Peter.
This is much older Peter. This is Pastor Peter.
Dear exiles: We may not be together. You will likely live your life in exile. Here’s what I’d like you to remember; here is what you need to know.
Let’s pretend this letter is written to us. Today. Here in exile.
Let’s take a few notes down. What stands out to you? What do you want to think about some more.
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, (AND AMERICA) 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
3 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, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.
This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 In all this you greatly rejoice,though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Your reward is secure – it is in heaven.
You may suffer now, but the end result is salvation. Because of this you have inexpressible and glorious joy
This would be a great thing to take out into the world with us.
Proper perspective changes our feelings and attitude.
You are unbreakable! You can’t be bought, sold, bribed or cajoled. You already have EVERYTHING through Jesus.
I always say that: Today, I might be tired, stressed, or under duress, but “In the grand scheme of my life, I am blessed beyond my ability to contain it.”
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
You have been redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you with Jesus’ blood.
You are no longer ignorant. You know better. Live “alert and sober” (this is an important phrase).
I choose to be sober – both the drugs and alcohol kind of sober and the “situational awareness” kind of sober.
2 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.
Living Godly Lives in a Pagan Society
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
“Live such good lives AMONG the pagans…that they may SEE YOUR GOOD DEEDS…”
Honor the emperor? Are you sure?
This is not the “I respect the president even though I politely disagree with his political views” stance.
This is choosing to honor the leader of a despotic occupying force. “The Emperor” is Caesar – Augustus, Nero, etc. These are the people who invented crucifixion.
That is a tall order. But Pastor Peter told us to.
In a country that is currently bitterly divided along political lines, maybe we should avoid political entanglements. The opportunities we have to share our thoughts with others are limited – choose carefully what topics you spend the most time on.
Suffering for Doing Good
8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
…In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
“Nobody really asks me about my faith.” But they may ask about your actions. They may ask about your attitude.
“Where did you learn about leadership?”
DO THIS WITH GENTLENESS AND RESPECT.
DEBAUCHERY – 1. excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures; intemperance.
Living for God
4 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
There has been a movement in the church of late to blur some of these lines.
Make sure you know some people well enough for them to be surprised that you don’t join in their reckless way of living. That means they have to know enough about you to know about the choices you make.
7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
CHAPTER 5:5 All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 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. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
What stuck in your brain / heart from Pastor Peter’s letter?
Which of these teachings do you feel is most relevant to your life today?
Is there anything in this “Dear Exile” letter you struggle with (understanding or applying)?
ONE MORE THING
CHALLENGE: Read a section (chapter) of this letter every morning this week (5 days, 5 chapters). Pray for wisdom in applying one concept each day.