Five Minute Devotions: 1 Peter 1
I really wish the apostle Peter had written more. His blunt and brusque style of action and speech serves as both his strength and his weakness. He’s a blue collar, rough and ready apostle for the Gospel, the man whom Jesus called The Rock. His clear and unadulterated passion for the Gospel bleeds out through what he does write, especially here in 1 Peter 1.
In summary, 1 Peter 1 contrasts two different realities. First, the reality of this life, in which “you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1 Peter 1:6). Second, the deeper and greater reality of the next life, in which you are admitted “into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4). As such, Peter writes that we are approach this world as a foreign land, one which we are called to redeem and transform during our time here.
The Current Reality
Peter is writing to a group of individuals that have been scattered from their homelands. They are refugees, they are outcasts, they are foreigners. What he writes to them does not shy away from that reality, but directs them to embrace it. He seems to give them an impossible command: “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;” (1 Peter 1:15). This command cannot be lived out through any human efforts, but only through allowing the Spirit—and thus allowing the Kingdom of God—to break through in this human body.
Holiness is weird. And you might be persecuted for it. You might be misunderstood because of it. You might get made fun of because of it. When you speak out against what the world calls normal, they will not understand you. And people fear what they do not understand. Peter is saying that we must accept the consequences of holiness, even if it means living this life as an outcast. The consequences of holiness may be temporarily uncomfortable, but they are eternally worth it.
The Deeper Reality
The deeper reality is, of course, that we belong to the Kingdom of God, not the empires of this world. I think the early church would shudder to see how Western (read American) Christians have so inappropriately interwoven their faith and their country. Peter could not be any clearer: “live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear” (1 Peter 1:17).
This world is not our own. This empire is not our savior. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood. The deeper reality is that we already live in the Kingdom of God and these empires of men are only shadows through which we must walk, awaiting our ultimate redemption. This world is only a tool for us; it is our refining fire to purify us and prepare us for the return of the King.
This world is our training grounds. It is our time of preparation. Should we cling to it as our current reality? Should we stick with what we know, even if what we know is broken beyond all hope? Or should we reach out and grab hold of that deeper reality, the one that says redemption is coming and is now here? Living in the deeper reality allows us to us our current reality for what it is: more broken than we once thought, yet with more hope for redemption than we once believed.
Father, it is only through your Holy Spirit that we can fulfill the command you’ve given us to imitate you in your holiness. Empower us to live lives befitting the kingdom and eschewing the world.
What implications does Peter’s theology have on our current lives? How should we approach this world?
Today’s header image is Caravaggio’s Crucifixion of Peter.
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