Greetings remind us we are not alone in the fight
We are all in the same boat of trials and persecutions together around the globe. We have
the same enemy – the Devil, who is like a roaring lion who is seeking people to devour. But we have the same God too. We have the same consolation, the same encouragement, the same peace and the same grace of God. They say that there are more cases of martyrdom in this generation than any before. Regardless of our circumstances, we can know that others have been there and survived it before us. And we will be there to offer up that same encouragement to the next generation.
A bit of context first: 1 Peter 5:8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.
12 With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. 13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God of all Grace. My grace gives you the strength to endure and do what is right. I AM the God of Peace. My peace passes all understanding in that when there is no natural reason to have such peace, I give it to you. I AM the God of encouragement. Through my Word you can see the reason and the outcome of the trials of life. Through my Spirit, you can have a joy regardless of what befalls you knowing just who it is who says that he is with you. Know that I AM with you and am in control of all the details of your life for my glory and for your good. I AM omnipresent – I see all, I AM omniscient – I know all, I AM Omnipotent – I am all powerful. I AM Love – perfect love casts out fear. Being completely confident in my love for you, and knowing that I am in charge of this world and will see you through your trials should give you the strength to carry on in faith. You can have victory through your trials only as you know and trust my faithfulness and character. Until you truly know me, you only presume upon me by your religiosity. There is a huge difference.
I AM the God who chooses those who will have genuine faith from among the world and I AM the one who joins you all together into one body in Christ. I have revealed to each of you about my faithfulness to some small degree. Like a giant jigsaw puzzle, share your piece of the puzzle with others. You need to share what I have taught you about myself with each other; to help others expand their vision of me. Don’t be like Cain when asked about his brother said “am I my brother’s keeper”. You are your brother’s keeper. Help others stand strong in the faith united in the body. (See Rom 1:11, 12)
Persecution actually protects the true Gospel
In a couple of commentaries that I have read, there is a possibility that the Babylon referred to is Rome of Nero’s day and that the church is in hiding so to speak. In others I read it is Babylon of Asia. To be honest I do not know, but one thing I want to bring out is that assuming the former is correct it would be even more applicable for today because in modern Christian missions, you have to be careful not to unwittingly cause persecution by revealing true believers whereabouts. Missionaries going behind the bamboo curtain and Middle Eastern societies have to have their “Christian” electronic footprint minimized to protect their identities. Successful evangelistic outreaches to areas where certain “Religions” are predominant cannot be advertised for fear of repercussion by said religions against the true believers in that area. I know of one story where the true Gospel was shared with one tribe (which shall remain anonymous) and a religious leader (from another “Christianized” religion which shall also remain anonymous) who was attending and listening, got saved. When word spread over the internet of this success story, that man’s religion’s higher ups, in America put pressure on that religion’s leaders in this particular country and great persecution came from this religion against these true believers burning down their village and putting an end to the relationship that was previously established.
Just knowing that other believers are facing the same hardships around the globe gives special meaning to Peter’s final greeting. Those believers are comrades in arms in the true underground church and must encourage each other to maintain the battle for the souls of men and women. Persecution keeps the pretend Christians away because they have not the internal fortitude to undergo the sufferings of Christ. Like chaff being driven away by the wind.
“No man is an island”
In the country that I serve in which happens to have thousands of Islands, it is imperative for the groups of believers from different language groups to meet together for conferences on occasion as a testimony that the Christ life is real and has made a change in other villages for God’s glory. Just the thought that others face the same struggles can give them the courage to press on for God to bring about similar changes in their own villages. Salvation might be instantaneous, but Christian maturity and growth takes a life time. Change is slow in the jungle especially when the enemy is trying to prevent you from growing in the faith. We need each other as believers. When one log falls off of the fire, it usually goes out. You cannot be an island in Christianity (See Heb 10:24, 25).
Jesus is the one giving care to and receiving care from you
There is something about the consolation of family and friends when things around us are in turmoil. A kiss from a loved one or an embrace from a friend can be all that it takes to infuse us with courage and strength to face our hardships. It lets us know that someone else knows what I am feeling. We know that God knows, but when his children love on us when we are hurting, it is like He is loving on us. God uses our brothers and sisters to give us His acts of consolation. Jesus is both the one giving care through you (“love others as I have loved you”, and “encourage others with the same encouragement you yourselves have received from God”), as well as he is the recipient of your caring for others (“as you have done it for the least of these, you have done it unto me”).
Be “Jesus” to some hurting soul, and let them be “Jesus” to you in turn.
That is all for 1 Peter