1 Peterby David Burge
Many businesses make decisions after doing a cost-benefit analysis. They might ask: ″If we were to renovate our office or employ another worker, would the benefits outweigh the costs?″ We also make those kind of decisions all the time for ourselves and our families. What is the best path to take with the various options in front of us?
In contexts of persecution like those we read about in 1 Peter, why would anyone decide to follow the Lord Jesus? Why would anyone be baptised into a community of persecuted Christians? And perhaps, you sometimes wonder if following Jesus wholeheartedly is worth the consequences that might follow.
When a friend of mine became a Christian, his parents said to him: ″Okay, so you are a Christian. That is disappointing for us. If you must be a Christian, don't take it too seriously. Don't make trouble for your family or give up your family's religion.″ What should he do?
1 Peter has been written to assure you that Jesus is absolutely worth suffering for. If you remember just one thing from this devotional, remember what Peter says in 1 Peter 5:12: ″I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. ″
If we were ever to do a cost-benefit analysis, we must remember that the gospel of Jesus is not a man-made religious story, nor is it an optional path among other good options. Peter wants us to share his certainty that ″this is the true grace of God″ (v. 12).
The God who made the world offers salvation to the world, and this salvation comes in no other way than through the sacrificial death of His Son (see Acts 4:12). There is no other path to God. So-called ″prosperity gospels″ are tempting but false; moralism looks good but creates proud self-righteousness and Pharisaic judgmentalism. The gospel which Peter shares here is the true grace of God. And so, even when it hurts, we know it is worth standing firm in it.
Lastly, Peter says that he is writing from Babylon, which may be his way of referring to Rome (1 Peter 5:13; see also Revelation 18:10, 21). In the Old Testament, Babylon symbolised opposition to God's rule. In Peter's day, it was the Roman Emperors who persecuted God's people and stood in defiance of God. Peter then makes special mention of Mark, the author of Mark's Gospel, who was probably with him in Rome. It seems Mark learned much about Jesus' life from Peter.
Peter's final words call Christians once again to love one another, and he prays that God's peace will be theirs: ″Peace to all of you who are in Christ″ (1 Peter 5:14).
Look back over 1 Peter. In what different ways has God encouraged you to stand firm in the gospel of Jesus, the true grace of God?
Having finished reading through this powerful and important letter, how has your appreciation for Jesus increased, and what kind of person is God encouraging you to be?