I was not fully aware of it when I first read it, but the book of 1Peter was written at a time when Christians were being persecuted. Reading the book of 2Peters first, some of the topics that were introduced seemed new to me. Now as I read even just the first chapter of this book I’m amazed.
Peter preaches what I call ‘joyful perseverance’ He rallies the troops to recognize the divine call on their lives, and realize that this call might lead to death. This call might lead to death but it results in eternal life. THAT is what’s being preached in this whole book. Its this idea of ‘hey I know Jesus, and just as He was crucified, I may be crucified also.’
You might be reading this thinking ‘oh no, not me God, this is not Christianity God,’ well the reality is that this is what taking up our cross and following Him looks like. It is knowing, almost expecting, persecution to come. The message we preach is not all sunshine and roses, but a stark reality that Jesus is KING. What do Kings do? They rule. And when you’re King of the Universe, that means that its all under your domain. (Christ=King of the Universe).
The emperor at this time, whose name was Nero, began throwing Christians into the lions dens (c. 54-58AD). This was obviously not very fun for those converting to Christianity. What I would argue; however, is that this resulted in a tsunami wave of more converts into the faith. Why? Because persecution creates perseverance. And perseverance is what keeps the faith.
One of the key verses, verse 7, says “The purpose of these troubles is to test your faith as fire tests how genuine gold is. Your faith is more precious than gold, and by passing the test, it gives praise, glory, and honor to God. This will happen when Jesus Christ appears again.”
Now this verse explains that our faith is preserved, and made pure, through fire! It is the fire of the Holy Spirit that makes our faith ‘more precious than gold.’ And it’s through the testing of our faith that it becomes more valuable. The best illustration I can give is of an ember underneath a flask, burning slowly yet keeping its heat. How valuable Is an ember in the cold? Indispensable! It is a priceless asset to the one in freezing cold. This is also our faith to the upcoming generation.
Our faith is an ember gaining heat amongst a cold culture. Through the flames of faith, a whole generation can be ignited and set ablaze. This is the goal! The goal is to capture the next generation of hearts for Jesus.
This chapter calls us to love each other with the ‘warm love’ from the heart. (v.22) In the following verse it says that we have been ‘born again’ through Gods everlasting word. (v.23). This is what the revealing of the good news does to a generation. It creates the warm love in which our faith is fostered. Being born again is the very concept that resulted into the massacre of Christians (no joke, they got kicked out of synagogues and thrown into lions dens).
This chapter teaches us to love deeply and expect persecution. If you’re not being persecuted yet, maybe you’re not preaching the full Gospel. The Gospel is meant to offend the non-believer because it presents the case of Christ as King.
Destiny Rose Nielsen.