“…This Word is the good news that was preached to you.”

1 Peter 1:25b

If you have been listening keenly to what Peter has been saying about you in these opening verses, you might start getting the notion that you are something special. I mean, he just finished telling us that we were born again not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Word of God (1:22-23). Before that, he reminded us that we were ransomed not by perishable things like silver or gold (granted that that currency already sounds too valuable to be a reference to our ransom), but by the precious blood of Jesus (1:18-19). A few verses before, he told us that we are at the center of the unfolding plan of God which prophets (men of whom this world was not worthy) and angels (perfect heavenly creatures who stand in God’s presence) eagerly long to look into (1:10-12). Further back, he had told us that God, not angels, but God, is the one who keeps us by his power (1:5). He surely could have delegated that task, but no, the One who rules it all, is the one who watches over us. Then there is that thing about the Trinity in its entirety from eternity past purposing to purchase and perfect us (1:1-2)! Peter is out to make it clear to these persecuted saints that they are precious in God’s sight.

The Scriptures teach that we are sinners (Psalm 14:1-3). That there is nothing good that dwells within us (Romans 7:18). They also teach us that God did not choose us because we were wise, powerful or noble (1 Cor 1:26-29)  and that as humanity, we can never claim unfair treatment from him (Romans 9:21-22). However, it is critical to understand that building a perception of who you are using half the truth leads to a lie. Those truths have to run into the wall of grace established on the foundation of Christ’s person and work. Saints, standing behind Christ and what we are in him and to him, is integral to our understanding and belief, if we are to live as we have been called to live in our pilgrimage. Peter has been masterfully kneading that into the hearts of his readers. I pray that the Spirit does the same for us, since it is not a luxury it is essential grace for our journey home.

If we allow ourselves the liberty of reading ahead, we’ll only find more reassuring truths for our weary souls. We’ll discover that we ‘are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.’ That even though we were not a people, now we are God’s people (2:9-10). As he bids his audience farewell Peter will declare, “this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it” (5:12). 

What the Groom wants the bride to hear is not, “look at all your flaws, you undeserving bride!” That is not what grace for our pilgrimage sounds like. He wants her to know, “I have covered up your flaws, you are beautiful in my sight, you are precious, cherished and you are mine now and forever more!” To capture the points of the gospel but miss the spirit of the gospel is to miss the gospel as it is meant to be preached. Peter makes no mistake. He himself had received the tender ministry of Jesus in his failure. Jesus had ministered to him in his despondency, turning his attention to his unchanging faithfulness (John 21:15-19). Suffering, struggling exiles need to know more than the technical points of this good news. We need to hear those words, “Do not be afraid” (3:13). We need to be reminded that despite our struggle, we are not alone. Our suffering is nothing to be ashamed of (4:12-13). We desperately need to hear that God has not discarded us. We need to be assured even as we pray that God cares for us (5:7) and that after a little while, he will restore us (5:10). Grace for us today and in the coming days lies not merely in knowing the facts of the gospel but in believing the truth that in Christ’s sight, we are precious. That in spite of the flaws of our imperfect obedience and the pain of our lives as exiles, we still belong to God!

 

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