1Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith--being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter is written to “to the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (vs1). These are Roman provinces in Asia Minor and their order probably reflects the expected route that this letter would take as it was passed on from church to church. This letter is intended to give followers of Jesus courage as they “suffer various trials”. The letter assures them that they are “protected by the power of God”, and any present suffering is to be understood as the refining process that produces “praise and glory and honour”.
Two thousand years later we read this with reverence for these spiritual ancestors. Here are men and women who suffered for their faith, some at the hands of Emperors such as Nero and Diocletian, and many more at the hands of others who opposed the Christian message. Such ‘courage under fire’ provides an inspiring example to Jesus-followers today. We too can dig deep to stand firm for the values of Jesus, despite the unpopularity it might bring on us:
Some examples that come to mind:
· While a vast majority of Christians persecute gay and lesbian people, I choose to stand alongside as a friend.
· While many people persecute people for being foreigners, I will choose to be welcoming and accommodating.
· While our society pushes old people aside by ignoring or mocking them, I will choose to be patient and kind and respectful.
The example of the first followers of Jesus challenges us to embrace the rejection, alienation and abuse suffered today by those who are persecuted by society because of factors such as race, sexual orientation or class.
Ordinary 32 / Pentecost +25
54 A Resurrection People
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 329.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.