A LIVING HOPE: THE MAIN TAKE-AWAYS
“Never deprive someone of hope, it may be all he or she has.” I have recalled that statement over the years as a Christian because I have discovered the necessity of hope. If you are like me, life has a way of testing our resolve and hope in Christ. And yet the Apostle Peter’s letter describes a living hope in a wishful thinking world.
Here are some thoughts I want to share with you about hope as I reflect on our sermon series through First Peter.
- We must constantly remind ourselves that our hope is found in Christ. Our tendency is to find our hope in the possibility of circumstances changing. Wishful thinking is about the hope our circumstances will change. Hopeful living is found in Christ who never changes. We are the “elect” of God and “pilgrims” passing through this broken world. We must remember that we belong to another world.
- Christians are not exempt from trials and suffering. The phrase used in 1 Peter (1:6), similar to that used by James (1:2), speaks of “trials of many kinds.” The word means “many colored” or “variegated.” Problems come in all shapes and sizes and Christians will experience them all. We should not be shocked by the pain that will inevitably come into our lives, especially when we suffer for the Name of Christ (4:12). These words are especially important in a cultural Christianity that projects a pain-free gospel.
- Having the right mind-set is vital to experiencing victory. Peter emphasizes a right mind throughout his letter. We are to “gird our minds” by being both “alert” and “sober” on the hope of God’s grace in Christ (2:13). A “like-mindedness” in heart is critical to godly relationships (3:8). We are to take on the proper attitude or mind-set regarding Christ’s sufferings. If our Savior suffered for His claims we too will suffer as we follow after Him. We are to be “alert and of sober mind” regarding the schemes of the devil (4:8).
- Although all suffering is not created equal, you can still find meaning in all suffering. Peter is clearly addressing believers who were suffering because of their faith in Christ. So much of what is interpreted as suffering today (particularly in the western world) really does not value the concept of what it really means to suffer. When my car breaks down I do not think of this as suffering for Christ. I think of it as part of what happens when you are blessed enough to own a car. Even then, I can still look to the Lord in dependence in that temporary setback. Whether directly, or indirectly, suffering is part of a fallen world. Meaning is found by recognizing that all brokenness and despair can find restoration and redemption in Christ.
- Honoring the authority that God has placed over us is an important part of our Christian witness. The key word translated as “submit” is found in civil affairs (2:12), our work environment (2:18), and even in the home (3:1). We can faithfully place ourselves under the God-given authority of others because Christ fully placed Himself under the authority of the Father. All things now have been placed under the authority of Christ because of His example (3:22). There is freedom in truly grasping this truth because life has a way of creating victim mentalities. The gospel snatches us from the clutches of despair because we know we are in the hands of our Savior. He is our Chief-Shepherd. He is the Overseer of our souls (2:25). Christians go from a “Why me?” mentality to a “Why not me?” view on life.
- There is something about pain and suffering that creates an awareness of our need to be holy before God (1:15-16) (2:1) (2:11). While our position in Christ is secure, our practical application of holiness is to be hammered out in every day living. The most basic question that I can ask to practice holiness is this: How can I follow in the steps of Christ? (2:21). It was in Christ alone that there was no deceit or sin. To walk after our Father is only possible by following after the footprints of His Son.
Are you experiencing pain? If so, are you following in His steps?
© 2015, Phillip L. Dunn