I don’t want to get into details, but we had a tough experience this week. We felt a bit of heat to do with our faith. It was a tense situation, and it was difficult for everyone to think clearly and really hear each other. Everyone in the room felt the tension. I left a bit discouraged, exhausted, and feeling a little misunderstood.
I went to work the next morning. I had an appointment with an intern from a local ministry. She’s been assigned a passage to teach next week, and the ministry wanted her to meet with a local pastor to help prepare. The appointment was on my calendar, but I hadn’t heard anything about it so I assumed it might not happen. Feeling a little beat up and way too busy, I wouldn’t have been completely disappointed if the appointment never happened.
But it did. The intern arrived at my office. The passage assigned to her was 1 Peter 1.
She had a good grasp on the content of the passage, but I pressed her to go a bit deeper. Why is Peter writing what he was?
1 Peter is written to people who are feeling heat because of their faith in Christ. Not flat-out persecution – more low-grade than that. They’re likely feeling a little beat up and discouraged. Like me that morning.
All of a sudden I was really interested in what Peter had to say.
The first part of the chapter is all about how amazing our salvation is. It’s full of hope, more valuable than gold, and we can’t lose it. What prophets and angels wanted to see, we have. And suffering only makes it more valuable.
Why is Peter writing this? Because when we’re down and beat up, we need to remind ourselves of the excellency of the Gospel. Just what I needed to remember that morning.
We went on. As Peter continues, he explains how to live in light of the excellency of the Gospel. He gets practical in the rest of the chapter: be holy, don’t go with the flow, love each other, grow up in that salvation.
We eventually came up with a rough big idea or theme of the passage: When you’re feeling the heat because of your faith, remind yourselves of the excellency of the Gospel, and live in light of that reality. It can and should be tweaked, but this big idea captures the gist of what Peter wrote and why.
Do you ever have one of those appointments in your calendar that turn out to be exactly what you need? The intern, the passage, the timing – everything was perfect. I told the story to Charlene later and she cried. It’s what she needed too.
I studied 1 Peter like never before. That morning, through a series of seemingly random circumstances, God gave me what I needed most. I walked away thinking about the excellency of the Gospel and, as one book puts it, the mystery of his providence. I’ll never read 1 Peter 1 the same way again.