By David Keen
#1 in a series on 1 Peter
Jesus told Peter that he would build his church and nothing, not even the gates of hell, could stop it (Matthew 16:15-18). Then, after Christ ascended to Heaven, the Holy Spirit used Peter to preach the first sermon to people who became the first church in the New Testament. Peter continued to serve the King as a part of his church until he was crucified upside down. It was apparent that Peter believed that nothing would stand in the way of Christ building his church. Peter writes this letter to help the local church honor Christ in everyday life. Like the people Peter was writing to, we are prone to forget what Christ has called the church, his bride, to be. We are wise to often remember and reflect on the majesty of the bride of Christ.
The church belongs to Christ. He purchased the church with His own blood (1 Peter 1:18-19). He has shown her great mercy. Christ has elected his people and caused them to be born again (1 Peter 1:1-4). Jesus left heaven, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a brutal death, was raised from the grave, and then ascended back to heaven. He did the heavy lifting. He did what no one else could do. He is and always will be the hero of the story. He is the chief shepherd who lovingly and sacrificially laid his life down for the wayward sheep (1 Peter 2:24-25). These wonderful realities should continually create a culture of humility in his church (1 Peter 5:6-7). The people that make up the church have done nothing to earn his love or fix themselves. He has shown them and continues to show them his great mercy. They are his.
The church is a people. Though building imagery is used in 1 Peter to describe the church, the church is always a people and never a building. They are people who love Jesus (1 Peter 1:8). They are a large family made up of broken people who have been redeemed by Jesus. 1 Peter 2:9-10 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession…Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people…” This means that the Christian life cannot be done in isolation. We are intended to live in community with one another as a part of a local church in order to most effectively proclaim his excellencies to the world. When sin entered the world back in Genesis 3 it not only separated us from God, it separated us from one another. The beauty of the gospel is that we are reconciled back to God and to one another. Without the gospel we are not a people. Because of the gospel the church is now a beautifully, diverse people who are able to reflect the majesty of his glory to the watching world.
The church has a mission. Christ ransomed his church to be his people to live out his mission in the world. Peter spells out some parts of the mission the church is called and equipped to pursue. While Peter does not give us an exhaustive list of all the church is to do, the church’s mission is certainly not anything less than all the apostle calls the church to in his letter. Peter tells us that the church is to proclaim the gospel to all people (1 Peter 2:9). The church carries out the mission when individuals each play their important roles well (1 Peter 2:5, 3:1-7, 4:10-11). The church is to be led by the chief Shepherd Jesus who calls qualified men to lead his church as elders (1 Peter 5:1-5; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). The church will suffer. Christ suffered for us and tells us to rejoice if we are able to share in his sufferings (1 Peter 4:12-13). The church is where people will grow into maturity (1 Peter 2:1-5). The church is to love earnestly (1 Peter 1:22-23, 3:8, 4:8). As Sho Baraka says, “Love ain’t love unless it can be taken advantage of.” The church is to pursue unity and humility (1 Peter 3:8, 5:5-7). The church is to pursue holiness (1 Peter 1:14-16, 2:5,9).
By God’s grace, may we be the church that Christ ransomed with his precious blood.