Study #1 of 1 Peter – Who is Peter? Who Am I?
1 Peter 1:1-2
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
Simon Peter (Petros in Greek, meaning stone, Cephas in aramaic) was a real man. He was fisherman who became a fisher of men through Christ. He was a man who failed and who struggled. He chose to get out of his boat and walk on water with the Lord, but then he doubted and began to sink. He boldly proclaimed he would never betray Jesus or stumble, but then he denied Him publicly three times. Peter was restored to the Lord when Jesus appeared to him after the resurrection and he went on to be a major tool for God in bringing others to the saving knowledge of Jesus, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t continue to struggle. Paul even had to openly rebuke him for some bad teaching once. He was a real man. He seemed to be solid and strong at times, and other times he was a mess. Sound familiar? He’s so me! One minute I feel strong and the next I’m a mess. It’s a roller coaster.
I find it incredibly comforting to know that Peter, someone so close to Jesus and so greatly used by God, also had tremendous struggles. I love how in 1 Peter 1:1, Peter identifies himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ. I mess up all the time. I feel like a failure most of the time. I think being sick and in pain and all of these crazy symptoms weaken my resolve to be “perfect” in Christ. Couple that with the marriage problems, financial stresses, working myself to death and feeling like my life’s falling apart….yeah I often feel angry, depressed, bitter, worthless, unloveable and abandoned. Though I know God loves me and is with me, I struggle with the LIE that He doesn’t care about me and that He has left me. I mean, how could He love me and my family and let us go through this? Well, only He knows the full answer there. We just have to trust Him through to the end.
With so many struggles, I have a hard time owning my position in Jesus. I’m His. I’m a Christian. I’m His beloved. I’m beautiful to Him. I’m wonderfully made. I’m an ambassador for Christ. I’m part of the elect. I’m His workmanship. I’m His daughter and part of the body of Christ. These words are actually hard for me to say and to believe. Hard to own them. Yet Peter, who had so many faults and struggles of his own, stands on his calling and who he is in Jesus. “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.”
I think that’s super encouraging for us hurting and struggling people. Right? I think that’s something we need to meditate on and pray about….asking God to help us know who we are in Him. Our failures don’t mean we are cast out. Our sickness does not mean God is finished with us or angry at us or that He has disowned us. The disciples all struggled. Most died horrific deaths and suffered a lot along the way. We were never promised easy or pain-free lives on earth. So we need to know who we are in Him and cling to that when we feel like the pain and exhaustion and heartache is too much.
I love the song by Jason Gray, “Remind Me Who I am”. Here’s the link. Please give it a listening to. It’s so good. On a sub-note, I saw Jason Gray perform once and he told us that he has a pretty bad stutter when he talks (and he stuttered whenever he was talking on stage), but it goes away when he sings. I think that’s cool, especially as a voice teacher.
So Peter is writing this letter to the elect (chosen according to the incredible and complete foreknowledge of God) who have been exiled and scattered as strangers (or aliens) across the land. This letter is for Christians who have been displaced, who have been forced from their homes, who are mostly likely going through the persecution that all Christians were at that time… these brothers and sisters had every reason to be downcast. There was probably a lot of suffering going and the case for that is also found throughout this letter, where Peter is encouraging them (from one sufferer to others) not to lose hope during trials and tribulations.
He is writing them to encourage them not to give up. We need that too! We so need that encouragement. I need it everyday. These people are tired, homeless drifters who are hunted down for their faith, mocked, belittled and hated for following Jesus. They are young in the faith (everyone would be at that time). Peter says this is all part of the sanctifying (purifying, consecrating) work of the Spirit. Our trials and pain are also part of this work… not that God causes it but that He works good through the bad that we experience.
Part of that work is that we are taught to obey Christ. Does that mean we never fail to obey? No. In 1 John 1 we learn that we all sin and that anyone who says he is perfect is lying. I’m a sinner. I fail every day. I struggle with anger, bitterness, my mouth, inappropriate feelings and much more. But God’s grace is sufficient. It is deep and wide. Yes, the Spirit is convicting us to follow Jesus and be more and more like Him. We should strive to do right, but we are not cast out when we mess up any more than Peter was.
“Grace and peace be multiplied to you.” Those are two things I need above all else, and so did these early Christians. I need grace. I need peace. Peter prayed this for them and for us too, because we are the Christians out in the desert places, scattered and suffering. So let us continue to pray for each other for grace and peace to be multiplied and for us to truly know and believe who we are in Jesus. I need the prayer because I don’t have this down. I really don’t. I’m a struggling Christian, but I know that studying His Word will be fruitful and will help you and I get through these horrific days.
Hope it blesses you friend.