Grace and Peace to You from Peter
People don’t write letters anymore. They are going the way of the pocket calendar, the checkbook and the flip phone. Some of you may have collections of letters written by relatives, a few of you get letters from Holland yet, maybe some of you still have a stash of love letters somewhere you hope the kids never find. Letters are being replaced by e-mails, texts or tweets. Thank God Jesus came in the first century and not the twenty first century. What a privilege we have of reading Peter’s mail, which of course is also God’s mail. As we study this letter we are reading the very words of God, they have full and complete divine authority. Receive this as God’s truth for you. Take it seriously and take it to heart. Having heard these words we will be accountable for what we do with them. This is God’s revelation, God’s truth. You can say you don’t understand it, but you cannot say you don’t believe it or you disagree with it. That you do at the peril of your soul. This was written late in Peter’s life around 67 AD when he was in prison in Rome, just before he was martyred for his faith in Jesus. It has some marks of being a last will and testament. What a debt we owe to apostles who poured out their faith and teaching and their own blood from prisons in Rome. Both Peter and Paul were martyred for their faith under the persecution of Emperor Nero. Peter wrote this out of a pastor’s heart, out of a genuine love for these Christian brothers and sisters. He wrote it to comfort and encourage and to strengthen their faith in difficult and challenging times. Our world is different from theirs in terms of material possessions, advances in inventions, what we are able to do because of changes in transportation, medicine and technology. But from a spiritual point of view, from the perspective of our hearts and souls there is no difference, no change. The superficial aspects of life have changed dramatically but we have the same fears and doubts and problems and struggles with unbelief. Where is God, what is He doing, why doesn’t He answer my prayers, why do things seem to be getting worse, why are there problems in the church? Unbelief can sneak up on us when we are tired or frustrated, when we are grieving or in pain, when things seem to be falling apart. This letter is almost 2000 years old and yet every word of it is just as true and relevant today as it was when it was read in those churches in Asia Minor, modern day Turkey. If we will open our hearts to it and ask God to speak to us through it, He will and we will receive food for our souls. If we will saturate our hearts and minds with the power and truth of God’s Word it will change our lives and fill us with grace and peace. This is God’s Word for us today.