Scattered but Chosen (1 Peter Chapter 1)
It’s the start of August, so we begin the month by diving into a letter in the New Testament called 1 Peter. I Peter is interesting in that it was written not just to one person or one church, but to a broad audience across several provinces. But just because its audience is broad, it doesn’t mean that the letter is general or vague. Rather, in this first chapter of the letter, it digs into the tension between the hard realities of the here and now and the heavily treasures that is to come for all those who follow Jesus.
I think you’ll find this letter very practical.
Let’s dive in!
1 Peter 1:1-2
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
Most bible commentaries agreed that the letter of 1 Peter was written by the Apostle Peter sometime between AD 63 to 80, that’s about 30 to 40 years after the death of Jesus. The way of Jesus didn’t die out but rather, was spreading like wildfire to Hebrews and Gentiles alike in the surrounding areas.
Peter named the five provinces his readers lived in. I figured there must be quite a few churches with quite a large number of followers of Jesus in them. Letters of this kind have an intimate feel to them. They have a specific audience and a specific purpose. There was something important that Peter wanted them to know.
First, the letter was addressed to the exiles. Yes, exiles. They were outcasts, dispersed from their home and scattered across the provinces. One commentary calls them “sojourners of the dispersion”. This was because of the persecution and oppression the early church went through. There is an element of trial and hardship, a sense of journeying, or being in places that were not their home. They must have felt disoriented and lost.
Yet out of all the scattering and disorientation, Peter used another term to address his readers. They were not only exiles, they were also the elect. They were chosen by God for a purpose.
Yes, they were not home but God still has a purpose for them. That purpose is precisely “to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood.” That means that they were saved by the costly death of Jesus and they now live for Jesus.
Scattered but chosen.
If you find yourself in an unfamiliar place and you miss being “home”, trust that God still has a purpose for you despite the situation you’re in. You are saved and chosen by God even in the midst of hardship.
And Peter said this: To all of the scattered but chosen, grace and peace be yours in abundance!
Not only is grace and peace available for you today, my friend, it is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in you that keeps you going. (By the way, sanctification is the process through which we become more and more like our Lord Jesus.)
What would it be like for you to grab hold of this grace and peace today?
Take a minute to pause. Pray this prayer as you do:
“Lord Jesus, by the power of the cross, I receive from you all the grace and peace that you have for me today.”
1 Peter 1:3-9
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
As I read the passage today, The word “result” caught my attention. They are used in a couple of places here:
- (that your faith) may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
- you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Jesus followers can be misunderstood for caring more about the process than the outcome. “The journey more than the end goal,” we often hear. I think for the most part that is true. We know that transformation take time. But hey, the journey must lead somewhere, right? After all, without an expected result, how do we know we’re heading in the right direction?
There is a reason why Peter reminded the churches to focus on the end result of their faith. That’s because the churches were going through trial by fire. They were scattered and oppressed because of their faith in Jesus. They needed to know that all of the hardship they are facing now will one day turn into joyous celebration.
Author Stephen Covey once said that “Your most important work is always ahead of you, never behind you.” He urged others to “begin with the end in mind.”
Friends, let us set our minds on the outcome of our faith today, that one day, all of the hardship and heartaches will subside and we will see Jesus face to face. If you are discouraged and want to give up, remember: your most important work is still ahead of you. Keep the faith and stay the course. For the end result is eternal and is beyond your wildest imagination!
Take a moment to reflect:
What are some areas of your life that you feel are losing steam? Or worse, that you gave up on? Is it the garden or a home project you started? Is it your relationship with your family, spouse, or friends? Is it your work? Take a moment to envision the end result again. You may even want to tell God what you desire to see and ask him to show you what he wants in your life.
1 Peter 1:10-12 (NLT)
10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.
12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.
If I were to ask you what you are most curious about, what would you say? Would it be “is time travel possible?” or “what would happen to earth if everyone on the planet jumped at once?” or “what is the resolution of the human eye?”
Ok ok, maybe those are not at all the questions you want answers to.
What I want to say is, we all have questions that we are curious about and sometimes, some of these questions will lead to answers that are life changing.
Let me tell you what the prophets and angels are most curious about: they wondered about the details concerning the salvation of Jesus like the when and the what, especially with regards to “Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.” It seems to me that to the prophets and angels, the salvation of Lord Jesus is a huge deal!
It is a great mystery that God, through Christ’s suffering, provided the way of salvation to us. Scripture says that this good news is not for the messenger who announced it, but it is for you!
Well, if I am honest, I don’t always live my life as if my salvation in Jesus is a life-changing big deal. I often unintentionally allowed the routines of life to put this gracious good news on muted.
The prophets and angels got it right though. The Good News is a wondrous message. It is the fuel for the life transformation because it is the unbridled grace and love of God showered upon us.
This song called “How He Loves” captures the reaction and response of a Jesus follower who is utterly stunned and moved by the bottom-less depth of God’s grace.
Let this song remind you how God gave his son Jesus to you. Let it be your prayer to Jesus.
1 Peter 1:13-21
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
There is a very bold command in the passage you read today:
So be holy in all you do
I can hear some of you saying “Oh my word!”
Well, hold it right there for a second. “HOLY” is such a tricky word. Most people hear it and they immediately come to the conclusion that they know exactly what it means, they usually think it means:
- Doing everything correctly and perfectly without any mistakes
- or to behave, be polite, or be nice
- or they might think of someone who’s a killjoy and who is no fun to hang around
- (this is probably the worse), they might think it means be apathetic about the world and the people around you and care only about “spiritual”/”churchy” things
Is this your understanding of the word “Holy”? If it is then I’m sorry to tell you that the writers of Scripture had very different ideas about what it means to be holy.
To start, “holy” means to be different from the world. But it is for a different reason than you might think.
If you remember, God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. God became their God and they became his people.
In the New Testament, which this letter is part of, holy means to be set apart for the Lord because Jesus has freed us from sin and he has freed us to live for him
All that is to say that being holy comes from having a relationship with the living God! Not because we need to be perfect to earn his love or for whatever reasons other than responding to his love.
I just think it’s the best thing in the whole universe that God loves us so so much. That is the hope have!
So remember this: God chose you to be set apart for him, to be different because you are in a redemptive relationship with him and his people. This is made possible with “the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
Yes, Jesus is sinless and perfect in every way so that you can rely on and trust in him.
What are some of the areas in your life that you may have neglected to set apart, to be different from the world?
Or are you someone who has been striving to be “holy” so much so that you are exhausted, depleted, and discouraged, forgetting the great love that God has for you.
Be reminded of what Jesus has done for you and recalibrate your heart not on your own strength but on Jesus.
1 Peter 1:22-25
22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word tof God. 24 For,
“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.
We have arrived at the end of chapter one of the book of 1 Peter. Peter points out that the churches have been purified and made more like Jesus by grasping the truth. That truth he refers to isn’t some sort of doctrine, dogma, or intellectual knowledge that churches have gotten a hold of. Rather, that truth is love and the churches have practiced loving one another deeply.
Peter uses the analogy of two kinds of seed to highlight this truth of love. The first kind, the seed of the earth is perishable and its grass and flowers will quickly fade away. On the other hand, the seed that is the word of the Lord is enduring and eternal.
Friends, our lives here on earth are transient but the love of God for us is imperishable and eternal. And so let us set our eyes on what’s true and lasting.
I love the image of a seed from God, because it isn’t something that we can create by ourselves. We must first receive this seed from God. And from there, we cultivate, we plant, we water, and by the grace of God, we grow.
And that is all we need.
Time and time again, I am brought back to the Prayer of Suscipe (suscipe is the Latin word for receive), a prayer by St. Ignatius of Loyola, who was a spiritual practitioner, specialized in developing exercises for the soul.
Here is the prayer. I’d encourage to slow down and use this prayer to receive this seed from God:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, 1491-1556