We start a new book today…one that is short but packed with a great deal. First Peter was written to Christians who were experiencing various forms of persecution, men and women whose stand for Jesus Christ made them aliens and strangers in the midst of a pagan society. Peter desired for these Christians to endure amidst the struggles…to have a behavior that stood taller than the rest of the society around them. This book opens with great warmth combined with practical instructions…all to encourage believers who live amidst conflict with and within their culture.
Peter provides a basis for encouragement amidst difficult times. Time and again, there is reliance on God’s grace toward believers and God’s call to salvation…this is the living hope that is to be a foundation for daily life. More importantly, as we see beginning in this section, and what will continue throughout the book, is that there is to be a lifestyle on the part of the believers that rises above the culture. This living hope then yields present joy for the believers. What is often hard for many Christians to grasp is addressed by Peter here…a Christian’s joy is independent of his or her circumstances. The trials and difficult times, though they may indeed cause temporary pain, they cannot lessen the joy that is rooted in one’s living hope in Jesus Christ.