We are strangers in a strange land.
But we are not alone. The people of God have always been strangers in a strange land, but they have been so as a community. We, together, are called to live differently than the world around us—as were the people of Israel, long before us.
At times, that reality can make us feel like outsiders.
At other times, like more than 360 million Christians today, we may be persecuted for our faith.
While it’s true that the Early Church sometimes faced severe state-sanctioned persecution, most scholars think that the nature of persecution faced by the recipients of 1 Peter was of a different stripe. The suffering they likely faced, according to commentator Dennis R. Edwards, was “alienation, shame, slander, and other abuses.”
For all these reasons, Peter refers to his first readers as “foreigners and exiles” (2.11), scattered (1.1) among the provinces of the Ancient Near East. That is, they felt out of place. They were exiles. This theme of exile can be found throughout the pages of scripture. In fact, understanding Exile is essential to a fuller understanding of Scripture and the Story of God at work among his people.
In the book of Genesis, for example, we see the theme of exile when Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden of Eden, when Abraham leaves his family and country to go to another land God would show him, when Jacob flees his brother Esau after deceiving him, and when Joseph is sold into slavery in Egypt.
We also see it, of course, when the people of Israel are taken captive and brought to Babylon in 587BC, and when Joseph and Mary take the child Jesus and flee to Egypt to protect him from Herod.
We are strangers in a strange land, and 1 Peter has something to say to us about who we are, how we are to live in light of our current reality, and what the future holds for us.
I invite you to do two things. First, read through 1 Peter in one sitting, on more than one occasion, if possible. Or listen to it on the Bible App. What do you notice? What stands out to you? What words or phrases do you hear more than once?
Second, join us starting on April 23, as we walk through 1 Peter together; in person or online, every Sunday at 10:30am.