Peter has a lot of practical advice for Christians. His original audience were believers who faced “unofficial” hostility from society. The storm cloud of official, state-sanctioned persecution had not yet broken, but it didn’t a meteorology degree to see it was coming soon. These new Christians faced all sorts of pressures from evil-intentioned and well meaning people, alike.
Some were Jews who embraced Jesus as the long-promised Messiah, and had been abandoned by their family, their synagogue, their community – effectively, they were non-persons. Cast adrift, they had no family and no social support structure besides other members of their Christian congregation.
Other believers were former pagans, who had renounced everything their society and culture stood for. They found themselves to be an unexpected minority, likewise cut off from a world they used to move quite easily and freely in.
Whether Jew or Gentile, the temptation to soften the shaper edges of the Christian message were the same. If they could only see their way clear to reinterpret some of the more “objectionable” things (like, say Jesus’ deity, His miraculous resurrection, His exclusive claim to be the only conduit for salvation and eternal life), then perhaps life would be easier.
One of the reasons Peter wrote his letter was to tell them to not give in to this self-delusion. Over and over again, he emphasized that Christians have been called to suffer for Christ’s sake. He stressed the idea of Christians in community with one another; fellow exiles trying to make our way in this wicked world together, serving the Lord and waiting for Him to return to fix everything.
This passage today, 1 Peter 2:4-10, is all about mission and purpose. What on earth are Christians here to do? What is our mission? Peter tells us all about that today.
- How should you think of a church? What is its mission?
- How should you visualize the people who make up a church?
- If you’re a Christian, why did God save you? For what purpose?
- What does God think of you as?
- What implications does all this have for your life, for your job, for the way you should view yourself?
- What implications does this have for the way you should think about your position or station in life?
All this, and more, is what Peter’s message here is all about. Take a listen, and consider what all this means for your congregation, and your personal and unique role in the life of your church. More than that, consider what it means for who you are, and why God made you the person you are today.
The PDF notes for today’s lesson are here. As always, all audio files and PDF notes for all lessons are here. Unless I note otherwise, you can assume the translation from 1 Peter is mine.