1 Peter: An Open Letter to Exiles

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We are excited to announce the release of new curriculum on Rooted Reservoir this summer. In addition to the curriculum already available, now you will find six new offerings: Genesis, Exodus, James, 1 Peter, 123 John, and Jude. Whether you’re a parent who wants to study the Bible with your family, or a youth minister looking for curriculum for your small groups, large groups, or Sunday school teaching, we’ve built this flexible curriculum to help you disciple the teenagers in your life.

Many of us experienced the COVID-19 pandemic as a sort of in-home exile. We longed for a future “Promised Land” when we could go back to school, travel, see our friends’ faces again, and give the people we love a hug without fear. We know something about the Israelites’ experience of waiting for an uncertain future in a way we didn’t before.

But now as we begin crossing some of the pandemic “finish lines” we’d looked towards with longing over the last 18 months, many of us are finding that we’re re-entering a world that feels less like “home” than we thought it would. The deliverance from this pandemic—as grateful as we are for it—reveals to us that what we’re really waiting for isn’t here at all.

The Christians to whom Peter wrote the letter we call 1 Peter also knew what it meant to wait for an uncertain future. They had crossed the “finish line” that their ancestors had been longing for—the Messiah had come. But Jesus didn’t bring them the kind of deliverance they expected. The early Christians thought that when the Messiah came as God incarnate, they would be done with exile and waiting. Instead, when they received Peter’s letter, they were scattered by persecution and waiting—again—for the Messiah to return and deliver them to the Eternal Promised Land. Perhaps they were beginning to wonder if he would even come back at all. As persecution ramped up, they likely may have been thinking, “Did we get this wrong? Is this all worth it?” How were they supposed to live as the church of Christ in a time such as that?

We find ourselves in this same era today, and this letter is for us: it’s an open letter to exiles who are waiting for Jesus to return.

Everyone who has been scared and uncertain, not knowing which way to go, knows what it feels like to simply want someone trustworthy to tell you what to do, to orient you to the new reality in which you find yourself. That’s what Peter is doing in this letter. Peter writes to these Christians to give them grounding, hope, and direction in the midst of hard and uncertain times. Much of 1 Peter is practical guidance about how to live in such a hostile environment. Peter grounds his commands in the most important truth, but then gets straight down to business by giving the recipients of the letter emergency instructions for life in exile.

Today’s world is not too different from the world of the early Christians to whom Peter wrote. Just like those early Christians, we’re waiting for Jesus to return, too. They were surprised when they were still waiting 30 years later. Here we are, over 2,000 years later, still waiting. It’s easy to wonder, “Did we get it wrong? Will He ever really come back?” While we wait in exile to be delivered to the Eternal Promised Land, 1 Peter offers us encouragement to remember our identity and hold fast to our faith, which is the only firm ground on which we can stand.

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