1 Peter 1:1-12

Readings for this week January 27 – 31
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Day 1 – God’s People

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 Peter 1:1-2

1 Peter was written to Christian communities distributed across the country we know today as Turkey. One of the things Peter does right at the start of the letter, in his opening address to his (diverse, widely scattered) audience, is remind them that they are Christians, that they follow Jesus Christ. He doesn’t focus on their background, their ancestry, or any other possible descriptor of who they are: how could he, writing to such a varied, polyglot group of people? It is their common identity as followers of Jesus that he emphasises; what matters most is the fact that they have all been called by God to be his particular people set aside for his particular purpose. That commonality is the foundation stone.

1 Peter addresses items of pressing concern to Christians and does so in a way that is encouraging and edifying. Peter’s name on the letter would lead the audience to expect that the advice contained therein was coming from someone of deep authority who had personally experienced what he was writing about. Who better to offer advice about discipleship and living a Christ-like life than the chief apostle who spent several years learning at the feet of Jesus himself? Could there be a better person to offer encouragement to those suffering and being harassed and persecuted than one who had faced such hardship and humiliation himself (and who would ultimately pay for his allegiance to Christ with his life)? What better source of encouragement in difficult times than a man who was known to have betrayed his Lord and master, but who had experienced the depths of forgiveness and had learned to be brave and strong?

Questions to Consider
Who are the people who mentor you in your faith? Who do you look up to?

Prayer
Lord God, help me learn from others. Put people in my life from whom I can learn more of you and see more of you in them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – Citizens of Heaven

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 Peter 1:3-5

In the original Greek, verses 3-12 constitute one long, complicated sentence. The sentence begins with a prayer, praising God for the gift of salvation through the resurrection of Jesus, and the imperishable nature of the inheritance we have received as God’s children. But the fullness of this hope and inheritance is somewhat veiled at the moment; salvation is “ready to be revealed in the last time” (verse 5). We live in expectation of the day when the curtain will rise and everything now safely hidden will be made clear and visible. But we live now as Jesus’ followers, God’s community of people living in the power of his Spirit, leading lives informed and guided by this (hidden) reality.

This new community of followers is God’s signpost of the new reality of his kingdom. Jesus’ sacrificial death, the power of his resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit are the means by which God has effected this transformation in people. We are citizens of this world still, but also now have citizenship ‘in heaven’, in God’s kingdom, and it’s our role in shining forth the reality of this new life – open to all – that elicits Peter’s praise of the living God. Being such dual citizens isn’t easy though – much of what Peter will address in the rest of the letter is the suffering of the early Christians as they attempt to live out their faith in a world that refuses to acknowledge its true lord and that fails to understand the new reality coming to birth. But despite this, Peter encourages them to continue to live out the love of Jesus in them.

Question to Consider
How do you notice the tension of living this life of dual citizenship?

Prayer
Lord God, help us all to live truthfully as citizens of heaven, so that all who don’t know you may see your glory and benevolence shine through us, your faithful followers. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – Suffering

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 Peter 1:6-7

The theme of suffering and how the followers of Jesus are to think about it pervades the letter. One thing Peter does throughout the letter is link the suffering that his readers have endured or may endure to the sufferings endured by Christ himself. He also links the believers’ (potential) suffering with Jesus: suffering is largely defined as things inflicted upon believers simply because they follow Jesus. In today’s reading, suffering is compared to the way precious metals are put through the fire in order to refine and purify them. As paradoxical as it seems, good can come out of suffering; suffering both hones and demonstrates the character of our faith.

The letter of 1 Peter does not say that suffering is good or something to be desired. The letter does not encourage believers to deliberately seek out suffering, nor does it say that suffering is something that is or will be necessarily required of all believers, though it is a genuine risk for those who genuinely follow Jesus. It does not even say that they should rejoice because they suffer. Rather, they are encouraged to rejoice on the basis of the salvation that will be unveiled upon the coming of Jesus. These are the reasons we are called to rejoice, whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in. Suffering of whatever type may be “required” of some people, some of God’s people in particular, just as it was for Jesus, but Peter does not encourage suffering to be sought for its own sake.

Questions to Consider
What do you think about what Peter says here about our sufferings? How does this relate to your own experiences of suffering?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, you suffered for us and call us to walk with, care for and alleviate the sufferings of others. Give me the grace to do so every day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Words of Encouragement

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 Peter 1:8-9

These next two verses move from suffering to more positive responses to the saving acts of God, further illustrating the appropriateness of rejoicing no matter what the circumstances, good or bad. Peter also warmly encourages his readers in their faith. One thing he doesn’t do here is reprimand the people’s waywardness or chastise them for lack of faith. He doesn’t even exhort them to strive for more faith or greater faith. Unlike Paul, who was in one way or another very closely connected to the communities he wrote to, there is no suggestion that Peter personally knows these communities or knows intimate details of their current circumstances. He simply speaks of “your faith” and states how “you believe”, and takes it for granted that these things are true of them, confidently and encouragingly stating the nature of their faith and their commitment to Christ. They are Christians after all; so these things must be true of them and the way they live out their faith.

He never plays the “super apostle” card. He never for a moment implies that, as someone who had actually seen Jesus, there is an obvious contrast between himself and them, between his faith and theirs. He simply speaks confidently and forthrightly about the love of Christ, endorsing the outliving of their faith in him and the way they rejoice in their salvation – even in the midst of suffering. It must have been hugely gratifying to receive such words from one who had been so close to Jesus, failed him so abysmally, and yet risen again to be a powerful, forgiven leader of the Jesus movement, encouraging and leading others.

Questions to Consider
Who encourages you in your faith? How? How do you encourage others?

Prayer
Loving Father, help me be an encourager of others, always looking for opportunities to offer a kind word or supportive gesture. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – A Community Across Space and Time

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 Peter 1:10-12

Peter’s message didn’t come out of the blue. He’s not just making up something new and exciting to attract people, or keep them interested once they are in. He may be writing to a wide range of believers spread across an entire country in multiple communities, but just as his opening address to them reminded them of the commonalities they share as followers of Jesus, so he also reminds his readers that, as well as being united with others across space, they are also united with others across time. The prophets first revealed the coming of salvation and foretold the advent of the Messiah, sharing their message with the world. There is an unbroken line from the prophets to Jesus to his disciples and to the recipients of Peter’s letter. The community of those who awaited the Messiah or who encountered him when he came encompasses the past, the present and the future.

Living a life in hope as God’s people of hope requires that we live it with others, sometimes in ways we don’t expect, with others we aren’t familiar with or even mindful of. Some of these others are people who have come before us, faithful followers of God who served God’s people and the world in times past. Others are yet to come, those who will follow us, picking up whatever legacy we leave for them. And then there are those with us now, friends, neighbours, strangers, who form the immediate members of the community of God’s people with whom we fellowship, serve and with whom we worship the God who called us together.

Question to Consider
What legacy do you think we will leave for those who come after us?

Prayer
Almighty God, keep me mindful of the part that I have to play in your world and in your community. Remind me that it doesn’t all depend on me; there are others you have called with me, and there is also you yourself. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)