Introduction to Peter’s first letter
Read: I Peter 1:1-2
How do you find living as a Christian at the moment? There is much that is wonderful about being a Christian, but there is much that is hard too.
Everyone experiences difficulties in life, but becoming a Christian can add a whole set of extra ones. At times we may wonder if we will be able to keep going at following Christ. Will it all be worth it?
The letter we are going to read was written by Peter, one of Jesus’ first followers. Peter’s own Christian life had had its problems and pressures – and failures too. Peter knew first-hand that all of us need God’s grace and help to keep going in following Jesus.
Peter’s readers were Christians living in the first-century Middle East. They were facing all kinds of difficulties as well. It wasn’t just one thing that was troubling them; Peter says that they ‘have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials’. Some of these trials were happening to them just because they were Christians.
Have a look at these snapshots from different parts of Peter’s letter. How many of these difficulties can you identify with?
- These Christians were being insulted because of the name of Christ (4:14).
- People were speaking maliciously against them (3:16).
- They were being falsely accused of doing wrong (2:12).
- People thought the way they lived was strange (4:4).
Some of these Christians also had close family members who did ‘not believe the word’, with all the heartache and tensions that can bring (3:1). Peter’s readers faced opposition in the spiritual realm too. Their enemy, the devil, was prowling around ‘like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’ (5:8).
And these Christians still had ‘sinful desires’ raging in their own hearts – waging war against their souls (see 2:11). Even their fellow Christians brought them grief at times. Why else would Peter need to urge his friends to ‘love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins’ (4:8, my italics)?
These believers were certainly experiencing all kinds of trials. Would they keep going as Christians? Peter writes to help them to do just that. Peter’s words can help us too.
Talk to God about your own trials and griefs, especially those that have come your way because you are a Christian. Ask God to help you keep going in following Christ.