Chosen to be Rejected: 1 Peter 1:1-2
No one likes being rejected. No one wants to be an outcast. We all want to be included – to be accepted. We don’t like feeling like we don’t belong or that we are missing out. We especially don’t like feeling uncomfortable or believing that we might be in danger. Yet, Jesus through the Apostle Peter calls us to embrace this identity. We are chosen to rejected – to be strangers, aliens, exiles in this world. So, why should we embrace this identity?
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” - 1 Peter 1:1–2
1 Peter Background
Peter writes his letter to Christians facing persecution and suffering for their faith. Peter writes as one who is sent (Apostle) from Jesus Christ – to strengthen the church and build their faith. He writes to remind the churches that this suffering is expected – they are, after all, exiles in this world.
“Elect Exiles of the Dispersion” - These words are loaded with the imagery of OT Israel. Israel was God’s chosen people. Yet, ultimately Israel was exiled out of the Promised Land and dispersed into foreign lands. Now Peter gives this identity to the church - Christians living in this world. It is a reminder that we are NOT Israel living in the Promised Land.
We are in exile – we have been chosen by God to be rejected by the world.
We are elect exiles according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ. Those are very important prepositions – God the Father set his love on us before the foundation of the world and sent the Holy Spirit to set us apart by giving us a new heart so that we might progress in our obedience to Christ and be justified (made righteous) by his blood. Sanctification is both instant (set apart) and progressive (growth in holiness and obedience). Our salvation comes with a new identity, and it also comes with a new purpose. Jesus is now our Savior and King.
Why do we need this reminder?
We need the reminder of our true identity as “elect exiles” because the world will tempt us in everyway possible to make this our home. The world uses both the carrot and the stick – it will entice as well as threaten. The world desires that we conform or at least live in fear. So, we need the reminder that this is not our home. We are a people on a journey sojourning through this foreign land to our true homeland.
“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” - John 17:14–19
The Good News
Jesus was the perfect Sent One, consecrated (set apart) and holy in our place, for all the times that we have sought to make the world our home. The good news of the gospel frees us from needing to seek our identity in the pleasures and comforts of this life and instead to seek Jesus as our greatest treasure. In Christ, we have a better inheritance and an identity that the world can never take from us. As a result, the Christian family should look very different from the world. In fact, the world will be confused at the church’s radical love and service to their neighbors and enemies despite suffering at their hands. The world will be surprised when Christians do not join them in the same “flood of debauchery” and will malign the church (1 Peter 4:4). 1 Peter is written to comfort Christians, but it is also written to fortify them. Peter is preparing us for the struggle ahead that we might persevere in our faith.
Why embrace being an outcast?
That is where Jesus is! Jesus went outside the city rejected by the world he came to serve. As sojourners we share in Christ’s sufferings. In him we are sprinkled clean by his blood. In him we are sanctified by the Spirit. In him we call upon God as our Father. Jesus is worth the cost of exile. Salvation and joy are found in his Kingdom and so we journey on through perilous country in great expectation of our future homeland – the new heaven and the new earth. Until then we walk by faith and not by sight. We receive the abundant blessing of grace and peace – reconciliation with our Lord – whatever circumstances this fallen world brings into our lives. We need not fear because Jesus’ perfect love casts out all fear – we no longer fear judgement. We need not be enticed away by the world because we have a greater inheritance and a greater treasure in Jesus Christ our Lord. So, by the power of the Holy Spirit we embrace exile and keep our eyes fixed on our true home free to sacrificially love even our enemies because our hope is not in this world but in Christ. Exile with Jesus if far better than making the world our home without him.
"You have made us for yourself and our heart is restless until it rests in you." - Augustine
To dive deeper check out Don't Make Yourself at Home: 1 Peter 1:1-2 by Pastor Tim Cain