This Sunday marks the end of our series on 1 Peter, and the more time I have spent with this letter the more I have realized that it is not a message for the faint of heart. As one who himself has experienced the complexities of identifying with Jesus and (and even failing in this task), Peter does not mince words when speaking of the difficulty, and the glory, of being a follower of Christ. Perhaps five themes have especially stuck out to me as being important.
You and I aren’t normal. Jesus is making us into something new and something different, into citizens of a new society and priests of a foreign land. That means we can never truly fit in, never really belong to our community, never be at home as long as we are in this life. To be a Christian is to be ridiculous.
We should expect to suffer. Following Christ brings joy and hope and meaning and wisdom, and it is ultimately a far, far better thing to follow Christ than to remain in our former way of life. But Jesus suffered in this world that he loved so deeply, and as we allow him to lead us, we will experience the same. The experience of a Christian is one of brokenhearted joy.
Our calling is to bless. As people made new through Jesus, our life-defining question is no longer “What pleases me?” but rather “what pleases God?” And the God who loves this world takes pleasure in us (with Christ) showing grace to the world around us. We are here on this earth to glorify God by doing good to the people God has placed us among—even when those people oppose us.
Our hope is everything. The call to follow Christ is not ultimately a call to self-denial, but rather to delayed gratification. We are promised future delight that exceed our best imagination. We will see Jesus and share in his glory and experience the world as it was created to be. As we take hold of the certainty this can give us, we experience “inexpressible joy” in the present and the ability to live with faithfulness in our calling.
We can only do this together. To be faithfully ridiculous, to be gracious and joyful in the midst of suffering, we need each other. We, the people of God, help keep each other sane and filled with hope. For this reason, division and schism endanger our very souls and the Christ-like love that “covers over a multitude of evils” is our lifeblood.
See you this Sunday as we, the ridiculous, join together in celebrating our hope.