Our WindSong Retirees Bible Class, which meets each Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m., finished our study of Peter’s first letter yesterday. It doesn’t take a great deal of reading this letter before discovering the thrust behind these words is a plea for maintaining a Christlike spirit in the face of challenges. What is not immediately evident in the text is the historical reality of persecution in the first century. Those to whom Peter was writing were experiencing great persecution, not only from the Roman government, but from their fellow citizens in the region in which they lived. These Christians were treated as outcasts, lowlifes, and misfits. They were shunned, not because of their faith in Christ and God, but because of their lack of participation in festivals and civic events where various false gods were praised and worshiped.
As a result of their lack of participation, these Christians were viewed as unpatriotic and therefore unwelcome in the cities. This caused a great deal of poverty among those to whom Peter was writing. Folks refused to do business with them. Their careers were as good as dead. So it makes sense that there would’ve been a lot of temptation to give in to the ways of society and culture. But Peter urges these Christians, and us, to remain faithful to our call as followers of Jesus, remain faithful in the face of suffering. There’s a call that lies in the undertones of this text: let your conduct be like that of Christ even when you are treated unfairly by the world around you. Great things come to those that are faithful. And who knows, those around you may be won to Christ “without a word…when they see your respectful and pure conduct” (1 Peter 3:1-2). Let’s make sure we are living in such a way that others are drawn closer to Christ!