Pounding the pavement by starlight this morning with friends, I reunited with my inner adventurer. The cool morning air lifted away the usual burden of bearing up under the heat of the day. I thought excitedly about possibilities and chatting rather than fretting over water stops, salty sweat burning my eyes, and how to handle exhaustion. As I fixed my attention on the starry blanket above, I considered the bigness of God and the excitement of being alive and in His will.
It's funny how a little change can affect outlook. Focused upward, I failed to notice that it must have been trash day. Overflowing trash containers lined the sidewalks. Trash bags and heaps of stuff blocked the path. Soon enough my focus was back on earthly things. Headlights warned of oncoming cars. Garbage smells grabbed my focus as I jumped over a trash bag.
Could this be what Peter was talking about?
...fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
(1 Peter 1:13, NASB)
I doubt that Peter had garbage bins in mind. But he knew about the daily grind and difficulties that believers faced. Persecution was a real threat in the life of a believer who heard this letter read in the church. Within a decade, Peter himself would be persecuted to death under the Roman Emperor Nero's suppression of the Christian faith. Being fixed on hope was more than an expression of freedom and positive thinking like we American Christians would relate to. Being fixed on hope because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was the only chance a believer under persecution had to persevere. They would need to cling to Christ's example of suffering and Peter's words of instruction.
I recently had a friend who wanted so much to give birth naturally, without an epidural anaesthetic. During labor her good friend, who had already given birth naturally, came to encourage her. She was able to say at the right moment, "You're doing great. You're almost done!" Not many could have coached a woman in labor through such difficult pain, except one who had already been there. Her words were a trusted and empathetic guide.
Peter gives Jesus as the believer's example in handling sin and suffering. Jesus is our trusted and empathetic guide. Peter says to look at Jesus and fix your hope on grace. One who loves Jesus will put all eggs in one basket--grace. The believer looks forward to a life with God that could never be earned and is already theirs. Like a starry sky where we fix our eyes, fixing or resting our hope upon God's grace in Christ allows the present suffering to be an opportunity for beautiful obedience and deepened relationship with the Savior.
Today, I am considering two things:
- The persecution of Christians is real. Paul's words are given to those who are tasting difficulty, especially persecution because of Christ. I want to be sensitive in my application of this text, knowing that my present difficulties are not so difficult. My life is not endangered by family, community, or a government that despise Jesus Christ. I need to pray for brothers and sisters under persecution. (Want to know more? Voice of the Martyrs / Open Doors)
- No matter how much I see and experience the garbage-lined streets of a sinners life among other sinners, hope lives. I need to daily remind myself of the beautiful blood of Jesus that was shed for me (1 Peter 1:18-19). Jesus is worthy of praise. Have I praised Him today and set my hope on meeting Him face-to-face very soon?
(c) 2013 by Kendra Higgins
Image courtesy of Just2shutter / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.