Ok, so dropping the ball on this blog is bad since it is meant to help me read the bible. I picked John's gospel because a) I love it and b) we did it at church and c) doing it now doesn't look like trying to argue with what was preached. But I've been slack, and so since I am involved in leading two community groups at church, I thought I'd reflect here on a few things we looked at this week. The text was 1 Peter 1:1-12.
One of the major themes of 1 Peter is suffering for the faith (1:6-7), copping flack for being a Christian. In the first century, being an artisan or part of a trade guild, involving a patron god. Becoming a Christian basically meant becoming an atheist in this context, and social isolation. If we give up worshiping mammon (money) in our workplaces, or success, fame, office politics, and so on, we should expect to 'be persecuted' at our work, not to advance as far as others in our careers and so on. But given we have an imperishable inheritance, then this shouldn't be an issue (v7).
Two further things of note. Firstly, our persecutions are nothing compared to countries where unemployment, imprisonment and death are on offer. Secondly, while we can't 'take it with us' and we should be building networks and a legacy of faithful witness and loving relationships, there is nothing wrong with excelling at a job or earning money to support family and church.
One of the other things to stand out to me is when Peter says that the outcome of our faith is the salvation of our souls (v9). Now in the Hebrew mind this is not some ghostly part of us, but the whole of us as humans. My aging body, my inner being, all of it. When Peter speaks of 'revelation of Jesus Christ' (v7), he means the resurrection of the dead, so it isn't some Platonic idea of heaven but the marrying of heaven and earth. Our inheritance is kept in heaven, but just like kids don't go into the cupboard to play with their Christmas present, but have it brought out for them on Christmas day, so our inheritance will be brought to Earth to play with for eternity.
When you look in the mirror, who do you see? Do you see someone who is basically ok or someone whose soul needs saving? It may very well come through a period of suffering - but be careful to distinguish between being persecuted for the faith and suffering because of your sin and that of others. We all make out beds and lie in them, and when we wake up in the morning and see that face in the mirror, see someone who needs saving and who is being saved, and who will be saved.