Something happened after Easter morning.
The earth continued it's orbit around the sun. Plants and animals continued on their way of doing things. The people who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover began to make their way home. And with some of them, went the story of Good News. Some who heard the story of the Rabbi Jesus, I'm sure dismissed it as a location thing, a, “You just had to be there!” moment. But time would prove that wrong as the message and the people kept on spreading around the globe.
Looking here at this letter Peter writes, we find a feature not all that foreign to our lives here in Paulding county. If you want a letter of relevance then simply look to the first verse where Peter addresses the 'aliens.' Other translations refer to the word 'pilgrim.' Both reflect the original term which refers to those who come and live alongside 'the natives.' Let's take a survey of the room. Ask the people around you where they were born (Ask for states to raise hands).
As a United Methodist pastor people talk about how often “we” move. In comparison, looking into it, the average US American moves between 12-16 times in a lifetime or roughly every 5 years. They say each move will take an average of 50 boxes too. (http://22.214.171.124/q/how-often-does-the-average-american-family-move.html ) I don't believe it but I have no doubt about this – we are a pilgrim people. We are in this together in more ways than one. Our faith, Jim Wallis of the Sojourners says, is “personal but not private.”
Peter writes to these Christians scattered throughout the region of Asia minor and in these words, we hear the echoes of his own spiritual journey through the Easter experience. We have no record of a disciple who was a bigger wash out than Peter. None of us have been THAT bad but then none of us had our lives' on the line for our faith either!
Peter's letter is one of Biblical encouragement. This is no pep-talk. No self-help seminar. No passive warm and fuzzy spirituality. Peter's letter of exhortation is intended to give us what has been behind all that Jesus has done. Peter reveals and revels in this plan God has worked out, you can almost sense his excitement. This was one, who like Judas had DENIED Jesus and yet he was sought out by Jesus for redemption – HE WAS CHOSEN and by grace, he responded.
This is the Biblical understanding of election – that God has chosen us all for salvation and by His grace alone we are given the opportunity to choose as Peter did or cast of the opportunity as Judas did.
And here is where, I think we get in the immortal words of Paul Harvey, “The Rest of the Story.” It is right here at the beginning of the book in verse 3 namely, “...according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...”
In public speaking it is the old adage: “Tell them what you're going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them.” In education it is, “HOOK, BOOK, LOOK, TOOK.” In Scouting it is the EDGE method – Explain/Demonstrate/Guide/Enable.
It is too a LIVING HOPE that we are Born Again. It isn't dead or static. We're not zombies who are decaying as we live. We are people on the move by nature – the Good News spreads as we wander but that wandering often entails sacrifice. Peter talks about HOPE because he knows it is so easy to doubt. Suffering is part of the reality of faith and it is built on the resurrection of Jesus Christ not political action groups or committees.
1Co 15:13-19 NASB But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; (14) and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. (15) Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. (16) For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; (17) and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. (18) Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. (19) If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS IS CRUCIAL TO OUR HOPE...
1. If Christ is not risen, then the apostles were liars, and our faith is vain! - 1 Co 15:14-15
2. If Christ is not risen, we are still held guilty for our sins, no forgiveness has occurred! - 1 Co 15:17
3. If Christ is not risen, those who have died as Christians have perished, they are lost! - 1 Co 15:18
4. If Christ has not risen, then we do not have a “living” hope, instead we are to be pitied by others 1 Co 15:19 (Mark Copeland @ Executable Outlines)
Easter has everything to do with it - without, all of this is nothing, nonsense and we are the most to be pitied. Every sermon, every small group and every ministry, in every church comes back to this. Jesus is all we have and all we need.