I am so stoked to start this study!
I find so much that helps me in this book.....I hope it will bless all of us as we study here.
We've studied Peter himself, a couple of weeks ago, and we saw that in spite of his flesh, or "natural man," and the characteristics that he showed, he became a wonderful witness for God, and a rock in the early church.
His letters have a wonderful simplicity and so much good advice..... he talks about suffering, about hope, and about maintaining our testimony in this world -- in short, being holy.
Let's dig in!
It puzzles me why some believers fall prey to the philosophy that it's God's will for all believers to always have health and wealth. God did not promise us a trouble-free life! I do understand, though, because I have been there, that it's awfully easy to slip when we undergo trials. So many examples that I've heard; some have faced intolerable marriages and fracturing families, but they bail out, "I have a right to be happy!" Some are facing illness or disability, and become bitter or complain. Others look back on their childhood and are angry, "What kind of God would let me suffer like I did?"
Understandable, but wrong. And I've been there, so I can say that. Many of us have a human view of suffering, and become bitter toward God. We are not in submission to Him -- we are oh, so vulnerable to temptation and to sin.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (I Peter 5:8)Others may submit, but it's a grudging sort of submission. More like being resigned to fate, instead of trusting our Father. They become depressed, and may even lose hope.
What we all need is hope and holiness. This world is not friendly to Christians many times. In fact, it is downright hostile, and some face persecution and death for their faith.
This is the same kind of situation that the readers of Peter's letter were dealing with. We shouldn't think that we are experiencing anything that others haven't already been hit with! The letter is addressed to Christians scattered around in what is now northern Turkey. Peter probably wrote the letter from Rome, because he uses a "code" word: Babylon. The timing? More than likely this was just before Nero's all-out-attacks on Christians in Rome, in 64 AD.
Talk about being in a pressure cooker! Christianity was a new faith; people looked sidewise at you if you said that you actually believed that Jesus came as God in human form, then died on a Roman cross and then lived again . . . In chapters two, three, and four we will see that believers were being slandered mightily, and in chapter four we'll see that Gentile Christians were truly reviled by their former companions in sinful lifestyles. (I see you nodding; yes, this is just like we see today!)
These Christians found themselves the targets of a hostile world's arrows, just as we do today. And they needed to know how to handle these trials -- the ones that came because they sought diligently to follow Christ. Peter points them to Christ, who is our great example, and our Friend. He endured suffering inflicted unjustly. Christ kept himself holy by submitting Himself to the Father's will.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)Don't we all need this practical advice? I believe we do! In one way or another, we will all face trials, if we are living for Jesus Christ. Peter doesn't tell us that Jesus will make it so we undergo no hardships at all....no way! He actually says in chapter four that we should look at them as normal.
Trials are not abnormal; they are even to be expected. Peter doesn't get us all depressed and bummed out, though. He points us to Christ, and to the glory of heaven that is promised to us. I believe that if we learn from this great letter, and then are strengthened and encouraged by it, we can live for Christ in a world that is distinctly hostile to us! I Peter gives us hope, and encourages us to be holy.
Personally, I can't wait to study more of it!