I was once told, "pain is weakness leaving the body." This is quite motivational to hear perhaps when one is working out or experiencing short term but beneficial pain. But what happens when pain lingers longer than usual? What happens when pain lingers so long that it affects the way you think, the way you act, and your entire life collectively? This type of pain can be detrimental; this type of pain can be devastating; this type of pain can be deceiving.
Experiencing pain that lingers past our self-imposed limits has a way of deceiving us that all is lost and there is no hope. To embrace the perspective of hopelessness communicates to God that the problems we are experiencing are far greater than the sacrifice Jesus made. My brothers and sisters, we should never listen this intently to the voice of the enemy to believe we have no hope when in fact we serve a hope-filled Savior.
My friends, the people of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia are experiencing suffering on steroids at the moment. The difficulties experienced by these Jesus followers is enormous and they don't know what to do. Peter writes a love letter filled with hope to these believers to encourage them, and to let them know that no matter how dark, how devastating, and even destructive life may be, there is still hope! We too can learn from the first installment of Peter's love letter filled with hope, specifically from 1 Peter 1:17-23, because as challenges arise in our lives, having the right perspective is paramount. From this love letter dripping with hope, we must remind ourselves to never forget the power of our redemption.
In verses seventeen through nineteen Peter shares,
17If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; 18knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers 19but with precious blood, as a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
In the midst of all the challenges these believers are facing, Peter admonishes them to never forget about the power of their redemption. This redemption should prompt these believers as well as all of us to have profound respect for God.
You see, God deserves to be held in high regard by everyone, because it was through His power that God raised Jesus from the dead. And it is through the sacrifice of Jesus that we are redeemed instead of us being relinquished over to the consequence of sin!
For a moment think about a coupon, in marketing a coupon is a ticket or document that can be redeemed for a financial discount when purchasing a product. Coupons are used just about everywhere for different amounts, but if you are advanced in couponing, you are able to go to the store at the right time and obtain way more products and deals than anyone would normally. However, with coupons you still usually have to pay something to redeem the product, but with the sacrifice of Jesus...
Jesus paid it all! Our redemption is not based on our goodness, but on God's power and we don't need a coupon, because we've got Christ coupled with the resurrection power of God! My friends, that is undeniable; that is unparalleled; that right there is unrivaled. And we must never forget the power of our redemption.
Friends, there is hope as we are reminded of the power of our redemption, but Peter also reminds us to never forget the purpose of our redemption. Listen to Peter's words right here in verses 20-21. Peter says:
20For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you, 21who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Friends, in Luke 19:10 Jesus reminds us:
10For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Friends, we may not desire to admit it, but the purpose of our redemption lies in the state of us being submerged in sin. Our sin separated us from a thriving, from a loving, from a beautiful relationship with God. Therefore, Jesus came down forty-two generations from his heavenly seat for the mere purpose of redeeming us. God's why was for all of us. Jesus' why was for all of us. Our sin prompted the need for a Savior. Not simply a sacrifice, but a sacrifice coupled with the power of God who caused the dead to rise and live again.
In the resurrection we notice submission and God's power on display for the world to take notes! And we must never forget that this was not a show, but the method of reconciling us back to God.
This is why, even in the Lamentations of Jeremiah, he says in chapter 3:58:
58O Lord, you have pleaded my soul's cause; you have redeemed my life.
God, through Jesus Christ, pleaded for us, by dying for us! God redeemed us by Jesus' sacrifice and through the resurrection power of God and we walk in new life instead of death because of our God. God sent Jesus for us. And friends, our hope is in Christ!
And in the words of apologist Lee Strobel, "Jesus Christ did not come into this world to make bad people good; he came into this world to make dead people live."
Friends, don't ever forget that, because there is hope, as Peter reminds us, we must never forget the power of our redemption, or the purpose of our redemption. But lastly, my friends, we must remember to live out your redemption. Peter shares in verses 22 and 23:
22Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is through the living and enduring word of God.
Friends, after Peter has lovingly reminded these scattered believers to be reminded of the power and the purpose of their redemption, he echoes a similar sentiment urging them to live out their redemption. Friends, he is compelling them to function out of a sincere love from the heart for all people. Even as this task might become challenging, he reminds these believers as well as us today that we are redeemed not by something that will fade away but by a Savior who is everlasting and eternal.
But, how do we live out our redemption? Friends, I'm glad you asked. We live out love, and Christ is there every step of the way. How can I make this claim? Because the Bible emphatically declares right there in John 1:14 that:
14...the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, glory as the only begotten from the Father full of grace and truth.
Friends, as Jesus walked in love, we are to walk in love.
As Jesus talked and delivered truth in love, we too should talk and speak the truth in love.
As Jesus was kind, we are to be kind.
As Jesus encouraged others, we too should encourage others.
As Jesus is concerned about all people, we should care about all people.
As Jesus blesses us, we too should therefore be a blessing to others.
As Jesus sacrificed in love, we too are called to sacrifice sometimes outside of our comfort zone to love others.
As Jesus extends hope to us, we are called to be the vivid, redeemed, expressions of hope in the world today.
Friends, there is hope as we never forget the power of our redemption. There is hope as we never forget the purpose of our redemption. There is hope when we begin to live out our redemption in our relations with others.
Sometimes, the world can offer repetitive scenes of tragedy that when focused on, leave us feeling hopeless, but there is hope. I know this because:
I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore, Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more; But the master of the sea heard my despairing cry, From the waters lifted me, now safe am I. Love lifted me, Love lifted me. When nothing else could help, Love lifted me!