Exiles in this world - 1 April 2022
By Ewald Schmidt
- 1 Peter 1:1-2
From Peter, apostle of Jesus Christ — To God's chosen people who live as refugees scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. You were chosen according to the purpose of God the Father and were made a holy people by his Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be purified by his blood. May grace and peace be yours in full measure.
These last few weeks brought overwhelming fear: would we survive the storms of our time? The waves of history-making events were seemingly crashing on the shores of our world. We were deeply touched by the plight of the people of the Ukraine, by the prayers of desperate believers as the bombs rained down on them. Most of us can also testify about times in our lives when we felt overwhelmed by the things happening to us, circumstances that were beyond our control.
In times like these, we appreciate Peter’s first letter. He reminds Christians who we are, and how to endure in times of extreme hardship. The first Christian churches were people of Jewish and non-Jewish heritage grouped together by their common faith in Christ as Lord. Both groups suffered rejection and persecution: the Jews were outcasts because they worshipped Jesus as their Messiah, and the Greeks were shunned by their former communities because they were different. In the last days of Peter’s life, things got even worse as the Roman Empire began its persecution of Christians in very cruel ways.
In these times, Peter reminds us who we are in relation to our Lord. Yes, we, too, are strangers in this world. We don’t easily fit into the fabric of society, we are different. Some Christians face persecution for their faith. We sometimes feel like outcasts. But, in God’s eyes, we are loved! God has chosen us to be his children, and to live in relationship with him. He has sanctified us by his Spirit, and sealed us as his property through the blood of Christ. We are always welcome in his presence, we belong!
That is why Peter can greet his readers with two words of great blessing: Grace and peace! The grace of God reminds us that the Creator of heaven and earth chose to be our heavenly Father, in spite of everything that we have done to mess up our lives. His peace is our greatest gift – to experience peace with God for eternity, to grow in peace with our fellow man, and to have the inner peace of one cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
As receivers of his grace and peace, and that in abundance, we find our safe shelter in God. He is our mighty Fortress, the Rock of our existence. That helps us to endure in this hostile world.
Prayer: Lord, I sometimes have a hard time in this world, it feels as though I don’t always belong. Thank you that I came home when I found you. Thank you that you have chosen me to be your child – that your grace leads me home. Thank you for your peace, making my life beautiful and sustaining me during every tribulation. Amen