This article is the next in a monthly series that will examine the theme for this year’s upcoming conference, Rooted 2022: Living Hope, Walk Through 1 Peter. As we experience the pains of a perishing, defiled, and fading world, our hope can feel distant or idle. Yet, in Christ, we are born again to a hope that is both living and active. We no longer have to count our trials as foes, but can rejoice in a hope which does not put us to shame, knowing it is offering us a gift more precious than gold — a tried and true faith. As we survey 1 Peter together, our prayer is that we would have renewed eyes to see that which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us by our living hope!
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Every book of the Bible invites us to use different stories, language, themes, and metaphors to describe the good news of what God has done in Jesus. If you’re a youth pastor or small group leader, here are 7 ways to talk about Jesus in the book of 1 Peter.
God has chosen his people to be exiles and foreigners. Followers of Jesus have been chosen to be out of place, and that is good news. Because Peter says our new identity as a foreigner also means we’re joined to a new family. We’ve died to the nation we’ve been born into, but we’ve been born again into an eternal family founded by a loving Father and resurrection life (1 Peter 1:3). And as children of God, we’re given an inheritance that cannot die, cannot lose to evil, and is guarded by God himself (1 Peter 1:4-5). Foreignness to the world is good news because it means we are now natives to God’s Kingdom.
Like most outsiders, we will suffer for our foreignness. Throughout his letter, Peter unpacks the moral and spiritual “otherness” that comes with following Jesus. But in chapter 1, Peter reminds us that strangeness to the world is proof of our citizenship in heaven (1 Peter 1:6). Persecution isn’t a reason to despair; trials are a reason to be joyful. We’re no more victims of persecution than gold is a victim of fire (1 Peter 1:7). We can rejoice because suffering purifies us and demonstrates the authenticity of our faith.
Followers of Jesus will suffer. Jesus certainly did. But his suffering led to glory—life from the dead and a throne with God (1 Peter 1:11). Our persecutors never have the last word because our salvation is not something they can harm (1 Peter 1:9). No nation or president can kill, corrupt, or erase what God guards for his citizens (1 Peter 1:4-5).
Being alienated and persecuted for your allegiance to Jesus is hard. But Peter says that through death and persecution we are born again by the undying and imperishable Word of God (1 Peter 1:23). Because of Jesus, we have become like undying seeds, so that when beaten and buried, we burst from the ground with new life.
Peter quotes from the prophet Isaiah who said God’s Word would outlive the most brutal nation of his day—Babylon (Peter 1:24). And neither Babylon nor Rome could stop Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, from rising from the dead, and bringing us with him. Jesus’ resurrection has repatriated us into a new Kingdom where death is dead. Through God’s Word and Son, we are imperishable and undying seeds, harbingers of new eternal life yet to come.
JESUS AS MOTHER
In a very abrupt change of metaphor, Peter tells us to act like babies craving milk (1 Peter 2:2). Milk matures a child. And Peter says that the way children of God mature into their citizenship is by continually craving the good news of what Jesus has done for us. Jesus is like a breast-feeding mother, continually giving of himself for the sake of his children. And like children, we grow when we go back, over and over, to the one who saves and provides. Peter knows maturing as God’s child is as simple as drinking, eating, and trusting what God has done for us in Jesus.
LIVING, BREATHING STONES
God wants to partner with you to bless the world. All the way back in the book of Exodus God builds a temple, a place where his presence lives, and tells his people that if they obey him, they will be a kingdom of priests who will bless the world (Exodus 19:5-6). Peter picks up on God’s ancient calling and applies it, not only to Israel, but to everyone who has faith in Jesus. Peter says Jesus is the first stone of a new temple. And through his sacrifice, God has initiated a new phase of his plan to bless the world through his people (1 Peter 2:6).
Jesus has called you to be a priest in this world. And his presence no longer lives in a building, but in you. You are a living stone in this new temple (1 Peter 2:4-5a). God’s presence dwells in and through you, so you can offer blessing, forgiveness, absolution, and freedom from guilt and shame to those that need it. Not by offering sacrifices like before, but by proclaiming Jesus as the final sacrifice, and living self-sacrificing lives (1 Peter 2:5b).
SUFFERING FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS SAKE
Followers of Jesus should know it’s normal to suffer for doing good, like Jesus did. Suffering for righteousness’ sake is not strange (1 Peter 4:12). Jesus’ unjust death after a life of good works is the norm, but so is his resurrection. When we suffer like Jesus, we will be raised like him too (1 Peter 4:13). When we suffer for good and not evil, we will never be ashamed (1 Peter 4:15-16). We can fearlessly die to an old, evil, and vengeful way of living because we know we will be raised.
Practically, Peter says this will mean living at odds with a culture of sex, drinking, and passion (1 Peter 4:3-4a). Living like Jesus in a broken world will carry a social, political, or physical cost. But Peter insists that just as Jesus suffered under our sin and was raised, suffering for doing good leads to resurrection and rescue.
If you live in a country that legislates against Christians, or in a culture that celebrates sensuality and mocks sobriety, or in a world that hates followers of Jesus, resurrection is everywhere. That means every persecution confirms our salvation, and every death stores up eternal life (1 Peter 4:1). Christians aren’t victims in a world that doesn’t understand them, but like Jesus, we are victors over every power.
NO OPTION TO NOT SUFFER, MEANS NO OPTION BUT RESURRECTION
For most followers of Jesus around the world and throughout history, the option not to suffer has never been given to them. Peter never assumes that life should be devoid of suffering, but instead argues that the blessed life rises up through suffering. For followers of Jesus, the inevitability of suffering is good news because that means glory, blessing, honor, and power are inevitable too. After we have suffered for a little while, Peter says, the God of all grace will restore, make us strong, firm, and eternally established in his power (1 Peter 5:10-11).
Persecution by governments, families, and friends can often elicit anger and resentment in us. But Peter wants our first response to be joy. When Peter was confronted and flogged for preaching about Jesus, he left rejoicing that he was counted worthy of suffering for the name of Jesus (Acts 5:41). That’s not because Peter was brave and a beating didn’t scare him. (Remember, he denied Jesus!) Peter can rejoice because suffering for the name, spiritually and physically, joins him to Jesus and his coming resurrection (1 Peter 5:10).
There are as many ways to worship Jesus in 1 Peter as there are facets of a diamond. I hope this article begins a long journey of seeing and enjoying all the ways the Bible reveals the goodness of good news of Jesus.