1 Peter 2:5, 9: One element of God’s great salvation is that we become priests who are part of a community of priests! Think of it. You are a priest, a representative of God, a mediator of His message, a minister of His reconciliation. Ponder this a moment and let the weightiness of this position sink in a bit. The struggle is that I don’t often “feel” like a priest. So much of my life and my past seems to “prove” that I am something far less than God’s chosen ambassador. The distance between what is stated and what is felt reveals the challenge we all face—whose voice will we believe? When we retreat into the isolation of our own circumstances and suffering we miss out on living into what God has for us as His holy nation of priests. As broken people who are finding healing in Jesus, we have the opportunity to connect with other broken and hurting people who need to know the healing Jesus brings. Peter’s original audience was suffering many kinds of trials; knowing their true identity in Christ, their present calling and their future certainty would help them live faithfully in the world today. What is true for them is also true for us. Next thought.
1 Peter 3:3-4: I chose this passage to clarify what Peter is saying to wives and to expand on what he is saying to us all. A first-century fashion trend for women involved interweaving golden threads and spangles into braided hair. The result was an eye-catching sparkle that flashed with every movement of the head. Xenophon of Ephesus said that this hair style was used by women in procession for the goddess Artemis and that the effect was erotically attractive. Knowing the vast and deep influence of Artemis in Asia, the connection of gold braided hair to the pagan goddess and how the glittering effect was related to sexual immorality helps us better understand what Peter probably meant. In fact, a simpler translation of the Greek reads “gold braided hair” rather than “braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry.” It seems like Peter is saying that a woman’s beauty should come from the heart and not from seeking to catch a man’s eye in a potentially seductive way. This is clear, but I think there is more here too.
If we live long enough our bodies will become marred. Whether male or female, one day our youthful beauty will surrender to the power of illness, accident or just plain old gravity. No matter what age we are when it happens, those who carry the external evidence of weakness may begin to feel unattractive and valueless when they compare themselves to others in the world. Peter’s words remind us where true beauty is found and assure us of the One who is pleased with what He sees. It is interesting, but as the outer stuff of life fades, with Jesus the inner can be renewed day by day. Next thought.
1 Peter 5:5-8: The path of faith includes struggles and dangers. There is even a lion prowling around seeking to devour you. For this reason, know your weakness and live in humility before God. Deuteronomy 8 says that humility is trusting God while pride is trusting self. Trusting God more than self is hard to do so Peter says (paraphrased), “Humble yourself under God’s mighty hand. And when it gets hard and you start to worry, cast ALL your anxiety on Him because He really does care for you. Remember, you are a precious and beloved priest in His holy nation.” Peter was a fisherman. The word “cast” carries with it the idea of energetically throwing the net as far as you can out into the sea. Cast all your anxiety on Him. Finally, I need to dip into 2 Peter to retrieve my last thought.
2 Peter 1:3-4: Think of it. God has given you everything you need to live a godly life in Christ Jesus and to participate in His divine nature. I don’t know about you, but I could spend the rest of my life meditating on and studying these verses and still not exhaust their meaning. Everything you need, you already have.
Like specific threads woven through the entire length of life’s fabric, suffering has been, is and will be experienced. Yet the gospel gives us a different perspective for how we engage the struggles of this world. The gospel is not about “pie in the sky when you die.” The gospel is about the strength and resolve to engage each moment with a clarity that comes from outside this fallen world. Let these truths sink in.
- You are a priest of the Creator God, living in community with other priests.
- You are not alone. You are a wounded healer living in community with others who need your Healer’s touch.
- You are beautiful and fully accepted in Christ no matter what your disability or infirmity or addiction or challenge.
- When it gets hard to surrender to the Lord again—when trusting the unseen hand of the eternal God appears like a waste of time—you are invited to cast all your anxieties on Him (and if you do it with energy, I am confident that doing so with shouting, groaning and tears is welcomed).
- And as the climax, God’s power has already provided all you need to live a God-honoring life and participate in His divine nature.
Physical muscles only grow strong when they regularly push against resistance. The same is true for the muscle of faith. It grows stronger as we press it again and again and again against the struggles of this fallen world. When our faith is tested by fire and we persevere, our faith is proved to be genuine and results in praise, glory and honor.
Peter’s message is for more than just a first century audience. I am so grateful that God has called us to be priests together in the Covenant community. No matter what today or tomorrow holds, let’s walk with each other and help each other lift some weights, remembering that God has already given us everything we need.
In so many ways and for every one of our days, the gospel truly is good news.