Published by Mark Morris on 30 Jan 2016 at 09:06 pm
Today as I reflected on events in the world and in my own life I was reminded of some guidance from 1 Peter 2. Whenever we read the Word we need to read it in context.
Keep it in Perspective
The hostile context of the recipients of 1 Peter reminds me that we need to keep all things in perspective. 1 Peter was written to first-century Christians who were under attack on all fronts, because of the gospel. The believers who read Peter’s epistle were discouraged, above and beyond the kind of discouragement and frustration you and I face as a result of illness, job changes, or relational trials, etc. Those believers were attacked by persecution for their faith. I have seen persecution for faith firsthand and dare not compare that kind of persecution for witness under oppression to the normal difficulties associated with life after the Fall. The message of 1 Peter is directed to faithful witnesses under fatally hostile times, but that advice is timeless and applicable in many circumstances.
Let’s compare — As my wife went through three rounds of chemo over several years, we often reminded ourselves that compared to Jesus’ suffering for our sins, our temporary suffering was merely a painful inconvenience. It was a horrible experience in every way. We don’t minimize the horror of chemo and near-death battles that my wife faced on her journey of suffering and healing. However, we knew that she would be healed in this life, or in the next. Either now or later, her healing would be victorious and glorifying to Jesus. In suffering, we clung to God’s goodness and to the Living Hope of Jesus.
We must daily remember to keep a kingdom perspective on whatever trials we face. My troubles in this life have rarely been a result of persecution for my faith. My troubles in this life are temporary, limited and tiny in comparison to Jesus’ suffering or the brutal persecution of our brothers and sisters who have died as witnesses in hostile times and places.
Just Taste Him
The epistle of 1 Peter instructed believers to remember the taste of Jesus. Following some potent instructions (1:13-25) to be holy, and to fix our hope completely on the grace of Jesus, 1 Peter 2:4 instructs us to “come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious (ESV).”
He builds this instruction off the image in verse 2 of a newborn baby who tastes mother’s milk and whines and wails, yearning for the taste and the filling associated with that milk. Why should we yearn for the milk of the Lord? Because we have “tasted that the Lord is good.” Every challenge I’ve ever faced has drawn me to the tasty presence of the Lord. If Peter’s advice was good for Christians under the persecuting fires of first century faith, it’s good medicine for the small sufferings I face as a fallen man living in a fallen world.
I remember the taste of Jesus. I’ve experienced the nourishment — especially in challenging times. I need Him now more than ever.
Come to the Living Stone
We, as tiny stones, when assembled around the Living Stone are “built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5, ESV). So my purpose and my joy and my strength and my hope is not in me, my company, my career, my success. It’s in my connection to Him – the Living Stone.
I Peter 2:10 is a reminder that God chose a people who were not even a people. Kinda like me — I’m nothing and nobody apart from Jesus. The Israelites were nothing and God made them a people of blessing for all peoples. In spite of being nothing, “now you have received mercy (ESV).” That mercy is at the empty cross of the living Lord – the Living Stone.
Whatever you face — come to Jesus – the Living Stone.
More later on the living stone.