Summary: Christians can be positive because God has an intense interest in us; He has given us a new birth; He has a purpose for our trials; and He has allowed us to live in a special time.
Are the days we live in any more difficult than the days of the past? Maybe not. Of course, the level of comfort has significantly increased due to the many advances in technology. But have these improvements in technology actually helped society. The truth is, people still face the same problems of life as they always have. With the invention of the television camera, we are now able to see what is going on all over the world. In years gone by, people knew very little of what was happening on the other side of the world. Today, though, we constantly see pictures of people starving in Africa, fighting in the Middle East, refugees of war in Eastern Europe, and the list goes on and on. We in North America perhaps have it the easiest of all people on earth. But even over here we have our share of tragedies. Today, we are shocked with the number of school shootings, saddened by the breakup of so many families, outraged at senseless murders, troubled with the abandonment of morals, and disturbed with the level of racism. And the Bible predicts that society will only get progressively worse until the coming of Christ.
Vance Havner said, “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to produce rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume . . . it is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”
Theme: Christian hope in time of trial
A gardener took great pride in caring for his lawn. But one year it grew full of dandelions. He tried every method and product to get rid of them, but nothing worked. Exasperated, he wrote the Department of Agriculture explaining all he had done. “What shall I try next?” he wrote. “Try getting used to them,” came the reply.
Times of trial will not go away.
Four reasons to be positive in days of discouragement:
I. God has an amazing interest in us (1:1-2).
According to Baptist Standard reporter Robert O’Brien, “Desert-dwelling Bedouins come straight out of biblical history, but they don’t live in a land flowing with milk and honey. The eke out a hard existence, either as rootless nomads living in tents across the Middle East and North Africa or as cultivators who have gravitated into a more settled life in concrete and stone structures.” O’Brien goes on to say that, even for Bedouins who live in houses, “their nomadic past shapes and dominates their mindset and worldview.”
As Christians living in this world, we’re much like these modern-day Bedouins. Although most of us live in homes and not in tents, spiritually speaking we’re nomads and aliens whose mindset and worldview need to be shaped by this reality.
The people whom Peter addressed in this letter were also strangers in a strange land, scattered throughout the Roman world. These believers were living in provinces spread across Asia Minor, in what in now northern Turkey.
The main reason for these Jews leaving Palestine was persecution (see Acts 8:1-4).
Not only were they strangers because they were living in a foreign country; they were also strangers in the world (as are we). The Christians true citizenship is in heaven. “For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven . . .” (Philippians 3:20). These scattered Christians of Peter’s day were subject to the misunderstandings, threats, insults, persecution, and other abuse that a pagan culture often inflicts on followers of Christ.
In the opening of his letter, Peter gives words of encouragement to these Christians who were finding themselves increasingly alone. One reason to be positive in difficult days is God’s amazing interest in us. In the second verse we see that each Person of the Trinity plays an important part in the Christian’s life.
A. The Father chose us.
The first word of verse 2 is “elect.” This word means “chosen.” In Ephesians 1:4 we read, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world. . .” The doctrine of election is something we cannot fully understand. While it is true that God has chosen some to be saved before the world began, this does not mean that God favors some over others or that He makes it impossible for some to be saved. John 3:16 says, “. . . whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Perhaps you are wondering how you can know if you are elect or not. Here is the test. Every person falls into one of two categories: the “whosoever wills” and the “whosoever won’ts.” We don’t need to worry about God’s part in salvation. All we need to be concerned with is whether or not we have trusted Christ. God has given the invitation to everyone to come to Him. Despite us not being able to comprehend this wonderful truth of God’s election, it is clear that God has an interest in each and every Christian. He chose us before the world began.