Peter knows who he is and whose he has become.  He is an apostle.  No longer a fisherman, though I’m sure he still fished.  But he has a different purpose now, a higher one, and that is one who is sent out by Jesus.  This is a privilege, a responsibility and a place of leadership.  And in more comfortable times this might have been a different kind of job.  But how do you encourage people who are suffering greatly for the faith and have been scattered far and wide?  Away from their homeland, their friends, their family and their roots?

In the secret moments of the night when they were on their beds wondering how they were going to make it the next day or if they were going to even make it, I’m sure a few of them felt abandon by God.  But this could not be farther from the truth.  They were “God’s elect,” “strangers in the world,”  people who had been “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God.”  Always and evermore when we face trials, our identity in Him becomes our key to overcome.

Not only this but they were connected to a greater family, a family of faith.  They had brothers and sisters just like them in similar circumstances scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.  “You know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (5:9).  They were not alone in their struggles, and their challenges while difficult were not things that no one else could understand.

Yet for purpose they lived.  Their purpose was obedience to Jesus Christ.  And in the midst of their suffering, that might have been harder than we think.  How tempting it would have been to become bitter towards those who drove them out and betrayed them.  How angry they might have been at their circumstances instead of choosing joy and faith.   How tight they may have been tempted to become when their possessions and finances were so scarce instead of the generosity that God yearns for.  “Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.  Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

And then there’s this phrase “sprinkling by his blood.”  Sprinkling people with blood was uncommon but was used for sacrifice, for consecration of priests and for forgiveness of sins.  All of these elements are found and needed among those who suffer.  Their lives are the sacrifice in the manner and spirit of Jesus.  Their purpose and consecrations is as a “royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of his darkness into his wonderful light” (2:9).  And for forgiveness of sins.  It’s not that anyone is perfect, but we live in the land of Forgiven.

Memorized May 22, 2010