Editor’s note: This post is part of a series featuring outstanding excerpts from student papers at the BibleMesh Institute, which offers affordable online training for local churches, schools, and ministries. The author’s name has been withheld for privacy and security purposes. She is preparing to serve as a missionary overseas.
American Christians today live in a very different context than that experienced by the original recipients of Peter’s letter. They were a minority in their day, living in the context of the most powerful pagan empire of the age, layered over the strict and legalistic culture of the Jewish religious community from which the church originally sprang. Today, we enjoy (for the most part) a cultural majority. Though our national culture has become more and more secularized over recent years, we take for granted the depth of the impact of our Judeo-Christian philosophy on our American ethics and values. Therefore, we do not often face the same level of persecution and prejudice that the apostles and the early church faced during the first century.
However, the inexpressible joy that Peter speaks about in this passage is by and large illusive for many American Christians. We struggle as a society with depression, anxiety, and preoccupation, to the point of personal crisis and emotional burnout. How can it be that we who experience a level of safety and security unimaginable to early Christians could also experience such a level of misery and mental distress at the same time? It is because we have lost our view of the astonishing and glorious nature of our adoption to God’s family and the inheritance we have received through our faith in Christ. We have become so used to that knowledge that it longer registers as miraculous the way it did to Peter’s original audience. This is why Peter points out the anticipation and longing of the prophets and angels to see and know what we have received in the Gospel. Therefore, in view of this, how can we refresh our awe for our salvation?
We should carefully examine our hearts to find out what we are valuing more than the inheritance God has sealed for us in heaven. Where do we invest our time, money, and energy? What are the main distractions that keep us anchored in this world and keep us from looking forward to the fulfillment of our salvation?
For me, one main distraction has been the entertainment of social media and my smart phone. When I actually take a moment to examine my usage data, and time spent disconnected from my family, I am appalled! So often my reflex is to pick up my phone instead of my Bible, or peruse social medial instead of connecting in worship to my Lord. How can we listen for the voice of God when our heads and hearts are filled with the noise of these distractions and idols? Whatever our idols are, we must set them aside and be refreshed by worship and adoration for the great work of the Lord, exactly the way Peter was as he wrote this passage as a worship offering to the Father and the Lamb.
As we remember our living hope, we should draw on that hope to give us joy in the midst of trials and temptations. Peter’s approbation of the saints’ joy was also an encouragement to choose joy in the midst of their grief and hardship.
Just over one month ago, my Grampa passed away from cancer. It was a sudden diagnosis a year and half ago, and we watched him go from healthy and strong to weak and wracked with agonizing pain in matter of months. But from the very beginning of his trail, he and my grandma professed their confident faith that God would bring them through this trial, either into healing and bodily wholeness, or into eternal life and spiritual wholeness. They had fear, yes, and so much pain to walk through before the end of that trial, but they clung to their hope and were strengthened by God’s goodness and promises to them through it all. And though my grandma continues to walk a road of sorrow after saying goodbye to the love of her life, she rejoices at the fulfillment of her husband’s salvation and his joy in heaven to see his Savior face to face. This is a tangible and treasured example to me as I walk my own journey with my Savior. Life is so uncertain and short, but the result of the purification and fortification of our faith by the trials we endure is worth every tear.
We should follow the example of the prophets and enquire ardently of the Holy Spirit to show us the nature of our salvation which we have received.
We see from the example of the prophets that, when they did not understand what the Holy Spirit was revealing to them, they sought him for more revelation and deeper understanding, and the Holy Spirit spoke to them for the ministry of the future church. It was God’s passion and purpose for us to know that what he had ordained for Jesus to accomplish beforehand. How much more is it His passion and purpose for us to have a full understanding of the riches of the salvation we now possess. As we pray for illumination from the Holy Spirit and study his revelation in the Bible, he will be faithful to give us deeper and deeper understanding of our salvation, for the building up of the church and to strengthen us against temptation.