A Living Hope: I Peter 1:3-9

thumbnail42Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By His great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.

“Blessed be the God and Father….”  It is worthwhile to dwell a little on this word, “Father,” which we can easily take for granted as part of a formal introduction to an ancient letter.   However, it is a word which cannot really be taken for granted; to call God “Father” in certain nations of the world today could actually send you to prison and worse.

The word  father is used about a thousand times throughout the Old Testament.  The word Father used to speak of God, though, is used just seven times, in Deuteronomy 32:6; Psalm 89:26; Isaiah 9:6, 63:16, and 64:8; and in Jeremiah 3:4 and 19.  I believe all Christians should take a few minutes to look at these particular verses.

When we get into the New Testament, suddenly we see a change:  filling the Gospels, coming from the mouth of Jesus, and then continuing in every book, we find over 300 references to God as Father.  In light of this, we realize that it is of utmost significance when we as Christians pray, “Our Father…”  (See Matthew 5:16 and Luke 11:2).  In fact, this is the first and primary revelation given to us through Jesus Christ:  God is our Father.  When Jesus first opened His mouth publicly as a traveling rabbi, saying (no doubt with a beautiful and engaging smile), “Repent!…and believe the good news!” the primary aspect of this Gospel (“good news”) was the outrageous and amazing fact that truly, God is our Father.

From that first fact flowed, and flows, the life-changing possibility of a powerful encounter and genuine relationship with our Creator God, who longs to find every one of us, to choose and redeem us (buy us back!), and pour out His love and merciful kindness upon us (look at Jesus’ parables in Luke 15!).  And in response, we are given as pure gift the very Spirit of God who cries out within us, in human and divine recognition, “Papa!” (Abba! Father!) (See Romans 8:14-17 and Mark 14:36.)

This merciful, living God, who gave us proof of his omnipotence and love in the sign of the sacrifice of His Son for our redemption and the Resurrection of Christ from the dead, this Creator who knit us together in our mothers’ wombs in the first place, desires to give us new birth to a living hope for now and for an eternal, blessed-to-the-max future!  “You believe in Him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy,”  says our Rock, St. Peter.

This quality, this gift of joy, was not meant to be an experience given universally to the first generation of Christians for the kick-off of the Church and a great run through the First Century and then nuthin‘…..

The history of the Church from the early centuries onward throughout the ages shows us countless experiences of Christians, sometimes in the most perilous circumstances, refusing to quench or grieve the Spirit within them which they received at baptism.  Rather, we see throughout history that our Father God, through the Son Jesus, has never stopped revealing Himself in very intimate and powerful ways when His reborn children call upon Him in sincere, heartfelt prayer.  When Jesus told us to keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking (which is the tense of the verb used), praying to the heavenly Father, His specific promise, according to Luke 11:9-13, is the ongoing giving of the Holy Spirit–God in us, “Christ in you,” as St. Paul so powerfully described it in his letters to the young Churches.

No Christian is left out of the intimate gaze and purposes of our Father in heaven.  No Christian, no not-yet-Christian who is seeking God in heartfelt prayer, will be ignored or given a scorpion when he or she asks for an egg (see Luke 11:11,12).  When anyone offers God faith the size of a tiny mustard seed, by keeping on praying and asking for the power to let go of known and unknown sin which tends to keep the door closed against the Father and Son, he or she finds that truly remarkable things begin to occur, truly amazing changes begin to take place, and truly wonderful revelations of the Lord’s real presence and power begin to work miracles, even in the life of the most apparently unimportant person in this hugely-populated world.

As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your soul, says St. Peter.

Thanks be to God!  JC