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Introduction: Hope Set on Grace — 1 Peter

March 15, 2020

Hope is not wishful thinking. There’s a lot of wishful thinking going on, but reality (including the reality of a pandemic), is a wishful-thinking killer.  And death is the ultimate reality check.
If there is no control over anything that happens in life, there is no hope.

You do You

For some folks (we can call them wishful thinkers), “you do you” seems to involve living in denial about the diligence, effort and resourcefulness required to flourish in life. Their preference seems to be, “I only want to do what I want to do.” Irrespective of the realities of life.
Not unlike the little girl who wants to lick the railing in a “viral” video.
For other folks (we might call them over-thinkers or over-worriers), “you do you” seems to involve trying to be as energetic, diligence and resourceful as possible in order to flourish in life.
At all costs.
Not unlike the folks who find themselves fighting over toilet paper.
But no matter what they do, it is never enough to have control over life’s consequences. (A recent academic article highlighted the frustrations of perfectionism being experienced be millenniels and Gen-Z.)
There experience seems to be, “I can’t seem to do enough.”

Navigating Reality

Navigating reality, then, often seems to involve our attempts to find a middle ground between being disconnected from reality (by making decisions the reflect little more than wishful thinking), and being disappointed by reality (by [re]discovering, much to our dismay, that we are not in control).

Worldview # 1: A Hopeless Reality

At the end of the day, navigating reality is meaningless and pointless if, in our view of the world, there is no God. That means there is no creation, no design of the universe (or us), no moral truth, and no purpose in life. Only dread: the existential angst that comes with concluding that all is meaningless (see Ecclesiastes 1).

Worldview # 2: Reality Rediscovered

Pandemics get our attention. In response to the struggles and sufferings that we experience in life, we find ourselves wondering if there is meaning in life. Is there a God? Is there hope? Why is this happening? Where/how can I find something more in life than this pitiful existence?
The Bible offers an alternative worldview. One that actually corresponds better with reality than Worldview # 1. The Bible explains that there is indeed a Creator, a Designer of the universe, and a moral Truthgiver. It is the story of creation, rebellion against the Creator, and a pathway to redemption from the consequences of that rebellion. Creation. Fall. Redemption.
In the Bible we find the one Person in history how navigated reality perfectly. No wishful thinking. No over-thinking. Just simple obedience to God, in a way that none of us have ever done, or could do, or could expect to do.

1 Peter: Hope I the Face of Suffering

And that’s where hope comes in. Because even as we struggle with the realities of life … health issue, job and financial issues, family and social crises, loneliness or depression, etc … there is hope.
That’s the message of Peter the Apostle’s first letter in the Bible. He is writing to followers of Christ (“elect exiles of the Dispersion”) spread throughout the area we know today as Asia Minor. As Peter writes to them, he acknowledges their suffering. They are grieved by various trials, accused of doing evil, suffering unjustly, and essentially experiencing a “fiery trial.”
As he writes to them, he reminds them of the hope that comes from their relationship to God through faith.
We need that message. Especially today.

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