Summary: 1 Peter is written to Christians who suffer for their faith, yet have discovered a living hope that overcomes the whatEver attitude of our day to the I will go wherever God takes me.
Move Life from Whatever to Wherever
3Praise 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, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though 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, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
INTRODUCTION: Whatever or Wherever?
Ever notice the power of tone when someone speaks to you? A soft tone comes across as loving and caring. A loud tone is perceived to be angry or upset. Tone often carries a greater understanding of the intended meaning of a word than the word itself.
Take the word, “whatever”. Say whatever in a soft tone and it may mean a lack of preference. People come up and ask, my opinion, and I respond with a gentle “whatever” that conveys, “I care, I just don’t have a preference. Whatever way you prefer would be fine – chocolate doughnuts or chocolate chip cookies or both.”
Say the word “whatever” in a loud voice and it comes across as a loss of hope, as if one’s destiny is determined by a fate outside of my control. A couple arguing. One threatens to leave, and the other yells, “Whatever.” Loss of hope. End of argument. Beginning of despair.
Or say the word “whatever” with the emphasis on the second syllable, “whatEVer.” And you have hit the one word mantra of indifference and scorn.
Why such an examination of the word “whatever”? In the last decade, the gentle whatever of caring has been replaced by the loud “whatever” of loss of hope and the attitude of “whatEVer” that spews forth scorn and indifference. That’s what makes Thomas’ Easter response and Peter’s words on this weekend after Easter so appealing for they teach us Jesus moves life from whatever to wherever.
Thomas in John’s Gospel has given up. Instead of getting in the game, Thomas believes the game’s over and it’s time to get on with life. We call him doubting Thomas, but the word is actually disbelieving Thomas. The other disciples say, “Jesus is risen.” Thomas responds with a “WhatEVer” attitude until he encounters Jesus and then his whatever becomes a wherever.
That’s why I also love these verses from 1 Peter as he writes of the power of living hope. Such living hope flows out of resurrection power. 1 Peter is written to Christians who suffer for their faith, yet have discovered a living hope that overcomes the whatEver attitude of our day to the I will go wherever God takes me.