Throughout history, God’s people have, at times, experienced years of favor and also, at times, endured years of hostility.
Consider the story of Joseph and God’s people in Egypt (Genesis 41 & Exodus 1). During Joseph’s life, God’s people found great favor with pharaoh and because of it God’s people flourished (Exodus 1:7). But then there arose a new king of Egypt, who did not know Joseph, who decided to set taskmasters over God’s people and afflict them with heavy burdens. But still, God’s people flourished & grew (Exodus 12:37). And so we see that, no matter the season, God means for any and every time to serve in the flourishing of His people.
This is true for God’s people–past, present, and future. Even today, as we survey the world around us and see Christians being persecuted for their faith, God’s plan for His kingdom is not thwarted. In fact, it is quite the opposite–His kingdom and His people will flourish. And even for us, as we survey the political landscape and consider our current cultural climate, we are being persecuted more than ever before for our biblical convictions and sense that our persecution will only intensify.
In the midst of this:
- How can we be a hopeful people?
- How are we to love those who are persecuting us?
- What does it mean to live graciously, kindly, and truthfully?
- How are we to think, feel, and respond to the world around us?
These are the questions all of us face and, thankfully, in the book of 1 Peter, God provides the necessary encouragement, direction, and wisdom for His people. It is for times such as these that God has given His people a book like 1 Peter.
In the Apostle Peter’s first letter we are reminded that regardless of the level of acceptance we feel or do not feel from the world, our identity is constant—by grace we are a people who belong to God, not to the world. Like the first-century Christians spread out around Asia Minor away from their homeland in heaven, we too are exiles and aliens called to live in a world that is not our home.
While it is true that in our lifetime it has become more antagonistic in our culture to live as holy and set apart for Christ, we are still who God has called us to be. We are still His people, still sorrowful for the fallen world we live in and love, and still called to pray for them and bear witness to the marvelous gospel of Christ.
And so church, over the course of the next year each week we are going to dive deep into this precious book of the Bible. Thoughtfully and eagerly, we’re going to study the entire letter of 1 Peter and explore what all it means to live as God’s chosen people in an unwelcoming land. Our prayer is that God will show us how to properly think, feel, and live.
We cannot stress enough how excited we are to come together as a church and hear from the Spirit in this timeless and timely book. Much like the original audience and like the Christians in every time and place until Christ returns, each and every one of us has something to hear from God in 1 Peter.
At The Austin Stone, we want to be a church like Peter hopes for and describes. A people belonging to God, faithfully obeying Him and remaining hopeful while in exile.