1 Peter 1:1-9: 3 Ways to Thrive in Exile
October 13, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Perennially relevant, parts of the Bible sometimes have particular resonance in certain periods of time. And there is no doubt that for many Christians today, the book of 1 Peter has that resonance. Many Christians feel as if they are “exiles.” In the Middle East, there are Christians under enormous pressure, danger, and physical persecution. In China, while the church continues to thrive in massive numbers, there are also indubitable signs of ongoing ramped up pressure from the state on Christians. In Russia, the Orthodox Church is established and protected these days, but other denominations – Baptists, for instance – are looked at askance, and their favor has been withdrawn. And then in the West, countries that for hundreds of years have been havens for Christian witness, albeit with ongoing persecution from the so-called church against Bible-believing Christians, these days that covering of a basic agreement centered on Christian virtues (at least upheld in theory) has been tested, and in many cases challenged, even removed. We feel as if we are exiles. And it is to “exiles” that 1 Peter is written.
As Peter begins his letter, he gives these Christians to whom he is writing three ways to thrive in exile: points of reference and overwhelming strength that they can rely upon even in the midst of their exile.
First, he calls on them to remember that they have been chosen. Yes, they are scattered. Yes, they are exiles. But all this is by God’s sovereign choice, he has “chosen” them. He knew all along what was going to happen. It is not outside of his control. And therefore in the midst of the exile there is a call: sanctification, obedience, Christlikeness, witness (“sprinkled with his blood”). Christian, remember that you are chosen. You may feel as if you are an exile. You may feel as if you are far from home. You may feel as if your life is running out of control, but really you are completely chosen by God. And therefore, seek to fulfill his will for your life even in exile.
Second, he calls on them to look forward to their destiny in heaven. This is their “inheritance.” They have a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” One of the greatest oddities of modern preaching – at least in the West – is the lack of emphasis on eternity. How much we need to remember heaven! We are “shielded by God’s power” until that “last time” when Christ returns. Our inheritance “can never perish, spoil or fade.” And so therefore, Christian, all these trials of exile that you face are for a purpose: they prove the genuineness of your faith and will result in glory to Christ on his return. Fix your eyes on the hope, on the future, on heaven. And, therefore, rejoice even in the midst of these trials of exile.
Third, he calls on them to experience now supernatural joy. Yes, we are not in heaven yet. But the Christian faith is not pie in the sky when you die. Right now, even though we do not see Jesus, we believe in him, we love him, and by his Spirit we can be filled with this “inexpressible and glorious joy.” We are not in heaven yet, but we are receiving the end result of our faith now, that is the salvation of our souls. This joy is not manufactured, manipulated, or a matter of pretense or will power. It is the supernatural work of the Spirit of Christ himself. May you today be filled with that inexpressible and glorious joy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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