So fellow Obterns, this is our last week of the internship. For us, the end of the internship marks the end of summer and the return of school. During the summer its relatively easy to keep Christ at the center of our lives because we are constantly surrounded by people who love Jesus and are pushing us forward in our relationship with him. Many of us don’t have those type of people at the school we are returning to. Life gets busy, homework and tests pile up, and friends and fellow students can tempt us to forget what we have experienced and learned this summer while putting Christ first. But I have good news…. Peter has a few things to say about this!!
1 Peter was written by Peter (no shocker there). And when we first start off today’s reading he starts talking about how we should live in harmony, and be sympathetic, compassionate, loving and humble. I don’t know about you guys, but for me I often fall short in several of these categories. It can be easy to just think “thats easy for you to say Peter! You were one of the first apostles, you were one of Jesus’ closest friends, you were one of the leaders of the first Church. You may be all those things Peter, but I am not!” But lets remember some of the things we read about Peter earlier in the summer…
- He cut a man’s ear off who was just trying to do his job and follow orders (John 18:10)
- While walking on water, he took his eyes off Jesus when he saw the wind and the waves and started to drown (Matthew 14:29-30)
- He swore to Jesus that he would never betray him but then when a young girl spotted him, he denied ever knowing Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75).
I don’t know about you guys, but this doesn’t sound like the Peter we are reading about in today’s reading. We also read back in Acts 5 that after Peter was being persecuted for preaching the good news, that he went away rejoicing because he was counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. This sounds completely different from the Peter that denied knowing Jesus and shrank away from a young girl who recognized him. So… what happened? What changed in Peter to make him humble, compassionate, loving, sympathetic, living in harmony with others, and bold and courageous enough to stand up against severe persecution? Jesus rose from the dead! There is huge power in the resurrection of Jesus! It changes everything! And the greatest news of all… that power is living inside of you and me and Peter! Shortly after Jesus’ resurrection, we received the Holy Spirit. I may be weak, but your Spirit’s strong in me!
Chapter 4 is mainly about persecution that the Jewish Christians living in exile from Jerusalem that Peter was writing to were experiencing. They had been kicked out of their families, their churches, and their homes. People around them were getting arrested or executed for saying that they believed Jesus was God’s son. They probably knew that things weren’t going to be easy for them and that things may end badly.
Lucky for us, we live in a country where we are allowed to exercise our beliefs how we choose. However, THIS DOES NOT MEAN WE ARE FREE FROM PERSECUTION! Many of you know first hand that following Jesus is not always easy. Many of our family and friends are intensely opposed to our beliefs and our lifestyle. Peter is warning us to be ready! Trial and hardships will come while following Jesus. But their is an important promise for us to remember… God has sent his spirit to strengthen and sustain us!
One final thought before I go. In chapter 5 verse 7 Peter says “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” You may go through difficult times. There have even been deaths and illnesses of family members for some of us this summer. Some of you are dreading going back to school because you know that the pressures to conform to the typical college student lifestyle will immediately start to hit you. You’re friends may think you’re weird or throw accusations at you for standing up for what you believe or not wanting to go back to old partying ways. Persecution and trials will come. But you were not meant to carry these things alone! Cast your anxieties on him! In verse 8 it says that the devil prowls around like a lion looking for prey to snatch away. Lions hunt and kill the weak, sick, or young animals that are straggling along behind the herd alone. Lions don’t usually attack the ones that are huddled together. We may feel Satan’s work the most when we are alone, not in community with other believers. It is easiest to be snatched away when we are not in community with others. Wherever you are going to school this semester, find a community to share your struggles and burdens with and cast your anxieties on Him.
I love you all and I am so incredibly blessed to have all you amazing people!