by Christopher Harbin

Who Wants To Be a Prophet?
Christopher B. Harbin
1st Peter 1:3-12

I've been pondering the concept, "How do I get the most out of my church experience?" I posted the question on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and got some interesting responses. We will look at the issue over the next few weeks. Today, we will be looking at Peter's first letter to the disciples in the Dispersion. It may seem an odd place to start, especially when these disciples were living in exile, run off from the Promised Land, and often hiding their Jewish identity from the cultures among which they were living. It was a difficult life, one made much more difficult by the fact that so many had set their hopes on a political Utopia being ushered in with the full inauguration of the reign of Jesus as Messiah.

Their hopes were dashed as they dispersed throughout the Roman Empire, cut off from the land so central to the Jewish hopes. Peter knew the disheartening situation his audience lived. It was also his experience, though this was not the first time his hopes had been dashed by Jesus not living up to Peter's expectations. The gospels are full of stories of Peter expressing expectations, only to have Jesus turn him in another direction. With the destruction of Jerusalem and exile, Peter once again faced emotional devastation. This time, his personal experience also echoed that of the majority of the Jewish believers.

Peter's letter begins recognizing that the believer's hope had to change. The basis of their hope needed transformation in light of the realities before them. God's plan had not shifted, but their understanding of God's purpose needed to move to a new level. They needed to release their hope from ties to the political landscape of Israel. Hope needed to move beyond concerns over material security, power, and political autonomy. Their understanding needed transformation into a new focus on what the hope before them really looked like. Their political dreams had just been de ...

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