As we enter into this New Year, we will begin our articles by looking at the book of I Peter.
One commentator stated the theme of I Peter as, “exhortation to stand fast for the faith.1” Another stated, “Peter’s first epistle addresses Christians facing persecution for their faith. As a comfort, Peter reminds them of their heavenly inheritance and he encourages them to live lives of submission to God’s will.2”
Additionally, a third states “[I Peter] is designed to strengthen, encourage and comfort in the midst of the ‘fiery trial’ they shall endure, and to hold out to them their great hope.3” Persecution is not something that we like to think about, but as Christians it is unavoidable – II Timothy 3.12.
Persecution comes in many forms. The most notable comes in the form of physical infliction of pain as punishment for not compromising Scripture. Granted, American Christians – for the most part – are not literally strung up to posts and killed for proclaiming to be Christian. Yet, recall the killings at Columbine High School; it was reported that one of the victims was shot and killed because she professed a belief in God.4 Is this not physical persecution on home soil?
However, it is worthy of noting that U.S. Christians are primarily persecuted with emotional, intellectual, and spiritual pain.
Christians are called ignorant for believing that people are created by God. Christians are ridiculed for having an absolute conviction of right and wrong. Christians are shouted down for believing in an innate right-to-life for those who are not yet born.
Christians are told that we cannot pray in public, that it is unconstitutional to display the 10 Commandments, that spanking children is abuse, that premarital and extramarital intimacy is acceptable and good, and that we, certainly, cannot judge the actions and behaviors of anyone as unscriptural and abhorrent to God.
Brethren, we are persecuted.
Our adversary, the devil, wants us to renounce what is righteous and accept unrighteousness as the standard.
It is a challenge to ignore the dearth of unrighteousness spewed forth each and every day and stay focused on our eternal goal.
I Peter 1.3-9 is as applicable today as it was when it was received by the first century brethren; with verse nine addressing the eternal consequence which is before each of us.
With inspiration from God, Peter wrote this epistle encouraging those Christians to remain faithful, through thick and thin. With the same letter, God is encouraging us to do the same – be faithful. Let us not be persuaded by worldly acclaim and wisdom; but remain faithful to simple trusting faith in God above.
1 Southwest School of Bible Studies, Introduction to the New Testament, I Peter, 2004.
2 Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts, I Peter, Nelson Publishers, p. 458.
3 Dickson New Analytical Study Bible, King James Version, World Publishers, p. 1409.
4 April 20, 1999 • Killers Target Athletes, Minorities–And Christians. http://chi.gospelcom.net/DAILYF/2002/04/daily-04-20-2002.shtml; January 6, 2007