1 Peter 1:1 – 12 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who have been chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood:
May grace and peace be yours in abundance.
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, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 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 honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 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, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours made careful search and inquiry, inquiring about the person or time that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated, when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the subsequent glory. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things that have now been announced to you through those who brought you good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look!
Reflection We are currently involved in a major remodelling project at one of my churches. For what seems like an eternity, there have been many meetings with architects and other professionals, in which we considered how tall, how wide, what kind of windows and lights, what colours and which kind of carpet. One day a new building to help us in God’s mission will emerge.
We have before us this letter, written by Peter to Christians scattered over the country now known as Turkey. The opening paragraphs set out the width, the height, and the depth of being a Christian.
Beginning with, the width of the building, Peter says that Christians are chosen and set aside. Our ancestry, our moral background, our social status, our wealth or poverty, are part of the old building, and Peter is sketching out the new one. Our basic identity is simply Christians.
Peter then considers the vertical dimension of this room into which we are invited. The height of this room is God’s mercy, the highest ceiling you can get. Peter reminds his readers that the events of Easter he does for each one of them, in the very depth of their being. What’s more, the new life of Easter isn’t just about individuals being transformed. God has, through that great action, created a whole new world.
Finally, Peter considers the depth of the room, and what it is going to contain. Quite a bit of this letter is concerned with the suffering of the early Christians, and Peter says that even through suffering people can find god and others can see that in their lives.
As we begin to walk into the room and look around us there is much to see, but already we know its breadth, its height, and its depth. There are difﬁcult things here which must be faced, but as the old saying goes the task ahead of you is never as great as the power behind you.
Prayer Lord, guide me in all the decisions I will face today, large and small. Help me to weigh the effects they will have on others; grant me courage in those which are difficult and I would rather avoid. Give me time to think before I act. In all that I say or think or do this day, inspire me with your love and lead me into your truth.
The Revd Michael Hopkins is Minister of a group of Methodist and United Reformed Churches around Farnham in Surrey, and Clerk of the URC General Assembly.