Let there be no doubt, we are reading a letter from Peter, the apostle of Jesus Christ! We get a glimpse at what Peter wants us to know about our Christian walk. As you read Peter’s words, don’t forget he spent time in Jesus’ presence! The extreme authority this letter carries is for us and other Christians struggling with their faith. Are you ready to dig into the wisdom Peter is about to share?
Peter likely wrote this letter from Rome. Throughout the Roman Empire, Christians were being tortured and killed for their faith, and the church was being scattered. These new Christians were in an “exile” of sorts from all that they knew, as aliens living in foreign lands. I know what it feels like to be living in a different culture; and we’ve known people who are never able to adjust. Peter’s greeting is very encouraging when he says, “May God give you more and more grace and peace.”
Paul takes such delight in his friends in Philippi. I can imagine how, as he wrote this letter, he was filled with joy at the memories he had made in this community. It is often fond memories we cherish that keep us going in the tough times. Sitting in a prison would not be Paul’s best hour. Yet, he rejoices and encourages his friends to “stay true to the Lord.”
Paul sees the fruits of his labor blooming in his friends. Spreading the good news about Jesus’ resurrection power has become Paul’s life work. To see this young congregation in Philippi growing gives Paul a lot to be thankful for. God is moving in the lives of these people, and God continues to move today. To stay true to the Lord, we need to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and not let the distractions of this world take hold.
Where do you look when you need a little encouragement? This portion of Paul’s letter to the Philippians gives them exactly that so they don’t lose heart. It takes work to be positive amidst struggle, ridicule, and, for the Philippian church, to be new Christians living among Jews who thought they were crazy.
We may take some of the same kind of heat for our own faith. I think that’s why we often keep our mouths shut when the opposite is more appropriate for the situation. We worry about what people will think of us. We worry we won’t have the right words to say. We certainly don’t want to ever do anything to bring shame to Jesus with our blunders.