“If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile.” (I Peter 1:17)
Peter gives fair warning to his readers (sounding a little like Paul) that if you do (and Peter says you should) worship the Lord God you should be aware that the Divine judges everyone by the same measure, so be sure that you are living good and accountable lives. The part of about “exile” is not that he is writing to people who have been forced from their homes but that are living temporary lives on this earth – meaning that their truest destiny lies elsewhere.
“You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.” (Verses 18 – 19)
in the very next sentence that warning is considerably softened by
the reminder that their (and his & my) sins have been forgiven
already. Peter really cannot maintain a severe tone for very long.
More and more, beloved reader, I am realizing that the gentle nature
of Peter came from his encounters with Jesus, and the patience &
compassion that Jesus had for him. Not only is it an exemplar to me
to live as faithfully as Peter does, but also with a compassionate
and caring nature – which reminds me of my decision some time
earlier this year to have a “gentle compassionate merciful belief”
system and to apply those attributes to others.
“He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake.” (Verses 20)
Now here Peter gets caught up in his own rhetoric – but do not hold it against him beloved reader. The understanding of the early church (or at least an understanding that is commonly attributed to them) was that Jesus the Messiah and the Lord God would return in a relatively short amount of time. This is why (I believe) Peter says “at the end of the ages”, because for them Jesus appearance, and certainly His reappearance, would signal the end.
am reminded of a phenomenon that is occurring all of the world, in
our current time; nature is coming back and surging forth in the
vacuum that humanity has created by sheltering-in-place. I read just
the evening that I sat down to write this that hordes of endangered
sea turtles are laying eggs on abandon beaches! Now granted that many
will not hatch nor reach the safety of the water; however 70,000 are
laying eggs! On the empty beaches!! Out of that many, there are sure
to be a good many little turtle survivors. In other parts of the
world that lack of human activity is allowing nature to catch her
breath and clean herself off! But I am digressing in a big way, and
not even sure what brought this amazing event to my mind. I will let
you know if I remember.
“Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.” (Verses 21 – 23)
I remember now why I thought of nature filling the places humanity has stepped away from. So often we have heard that nature – the flora & fauna – of our world are suffering from lack of living space. Ecologists and others have warned that as more animals become extinct, the human animal also edges closer to the brink of its own destruction. But this evidence of nature so quickly taking advantage gives me, as a person who roots and cheers for creation, hope that revive itself if just given the chance to purify itself. Yes, I did mean to phrase it that way, echoing what Peter said.
The early church thought of itself, that is humanity, coming close to end of its existence. But since the time of Jesus we have hung on and around for over 2000 years. Yes, right now humanity may be more closely staring death in the face of death than ever before, but we are holding more tightly to life and supporting each other in more tangible and creative ways. We are living in scary times, no doubt, and I get a chill up and down my spine each time I see the reminders of what we are facing. But we are also clinging to hope and clinging to each other. I want you, beloved reader, to re-read verses 21 to 23.
“Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.”
Claim the promise that Peter has laid out to his readers. And then live out genuine mutual love deeply from your heart, spirit and soul. Selah!