Bible Reading: 1 Peter 1:22-2:12
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people, once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
The letter of 1 Peter was addressed to Christians scattered in the diaspora. Peter addresses them as “exiles” because they were “spiritual exiles” living out in a gentile world. This letter is precious and very relevant to our lives today as we live as “exiles” in a secular world.
True Christians are very few. Many may profess the faith, but those who sincerely follow Christ are few. This letter is not written for those who tag along to the Christian religion. This letter is an abundant source of encouragement addressed to the elect, the true people of God, chosen by the Father, sanctified by the Spirit, and atoned for by Christ for obedience to Him. These true Christians long for Christ and Christ alone in the depths of their hearts. They look not to the world but a heavenly hope. In humility, they seek Christ and hold fast to the power of His resurrection. They know they are fallible and so apt to fall at any given temptation. Peter writes his letter to encourage such people living in the turmoil of evil and chaos in the secular world.
In chapter 1, Peter encourages the church to bless God because of the heavenly hope which has been secured for us by Christ (read more in A Living Hope, A Hope leading to Holiness). Though we have to suffer trials on earth for our faith, we are not of this world. We have been ransomed from futility by grace and by the blood of Christ to a living hope. We have been reconciled with God and will appear holy and blameless before God’s thrones in Christ’s robes.
Apart from holding on to the hope we have vertically with God, Peter also encourages us secondly to love the brothers sincerely. Because of our hope, we are different from the world. Our life on earth is temporary as we look towards eternal glory. Our life on earth has a mission to fulfil God’s will and expand His kingdom. Because of this end, Peter calls us to love one another earnestly from a pure heart. How much do we value our church community? How much do we love the fellowship of believers? The church and other Christians are God’s means of grace to encourage and hurry us toward our living hope. Quoting Isaiah, Peter explains how “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever”, how we must encourage one another in a community surrounded by God’s Word. This is God’s way of keeping His people as they venture through the pilgrim life on earth.
In chapter 2, Peter encourages the church to put off all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. Instead, as a community, set your heart to long for pure spiritual milk (God’s Word) and long for genuine spiritual growth. This is the heart of those who have tasted God’s goodness, how we must continue in it, how we must strive to know God more personally and in the community. These are the means of grace God has given us as we fight the sojourner war in the secular world. God’s word is our strength. And what more is this expounded in the community of other godly saints! Take heed and take up such spiritual graces which God has made plainly available to us.
Lord, thank You for the eternal hope we have in You. Please teach us to love one another in the community of believers. Teach us to have fellowship in Your Word and give us an openness to grow together, longing for pure spiritual milk, longing to grow to know You. Lord, foster this community amongst us. Forgive and change our selfish and stubborn hearts so that we can join with all believers to serve and live for You as we pilgrim through this world. In Jesus’ name, amen.