Summary: Where there's Christ there's hope! (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: email@example.com)
Reading: 1 Peter chapter 1 verses 1-9.
• “We don’t look alike, we don’t act alike.
• We don’t dress alike.
• We have different tastes in the food we eat.
• The books we read, the films we watch, the cars we drive and the music we enjoy.
• We support different football teams or have different leisure interests;
• We ascribe to different philosophies and differ over politics.
• Our weights vary, our heights vary,
• So does the colour of our hair and skin.
• But we all have one thing in common;
• We all know what it means to hurt!”
Suffering is a universal language:
• Though the cause of our suffering may vary:
• We all have or we all will experience suffering in one form or another.
• At least fifteen times in this short letter, Peter will refer to suffering.
• And he will give us some insights as to how to handle life when things are difficult.
• In this letter (1 Peter) he is writing to a mixture of Gentile and Jewish believers;
• Who were scattered throughout Asia Minor.
• It was written to a people of distinct cultures,
• Varied geographical settings, and contrasting backgrounds.
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.”
“Peter, an apostle on assignment by Jesus, the Messiah,
writing to exiles scattered to the four winds”.
These Christians had been scattered in five different parts of the Roman Empire:
• All five parts were in Asia Minor;
• Which today is Modern Turkey.
• The letter addressed the issue of suffering,
• And Peter's persecuted audience identified deeply with the message:
Quote: Chapter 4 verses 12-13 (The Message):
“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.”
• For the readers of Peter’s letter, life was grim indeed.
• Many, many Christians perished under the Roman Emperor Nero's merciless persecution.
• Many believers were maliciously victimized,
• Ostracized by Roman society, and ruthlessly hunted as traitors.
Peter twice refers to their trials as:
• Being "tested by fire" (chapter 1 verse 7)
• And a "fiery ordeal" (chapter 4 verse 12).
• This letter contains only 105 verses,
• But this theme of suffering surfaces time and time again.
• e.g. Chapter 1 verses 6; “All kinds of trials”
• e.g. Chapter 2 verse 20; Beatings “for doing good”.
• e.g. Chapter 3 verses 14-17; Suffering “for what is right”.
• e.g. Chapter 4 verses 13; Participating “in the sufferings of Christ”.
• e.g. Chapter 5 verses 19; Suffering “according to God’s will”.