Peter indicates they can have hope because of their spiritual status. In the eyes of their neighbours, they may be seen as troublemakers, but in the eyes of God they were “Elect”, “Chosen”, “Sanctified”, to be “Obedient” to God the Son, and “sprinkled with the blood”. These are theologically loaded phrases. Peter reminds them, God “… has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, …” (1 Peter 1:3–4) This is living hope; hope with a heartbeat. This hope is part of our birthright, we are born into a living hope. It is living because its source is our living Lord Jesus. When Paul wrote to Timothy, he called Jesus our hope, and wrote we have put our hope in the living God. This relationship with the living God is quite different from the relationship people had with idols made from wood and stone. “‘Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman? … Woe to him who says to wood, “Come to life!” Or to lifeless stone, “Wake up!” Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it.’” (Habakkuk 2:18–19) The people Peter wrote to would have been familiar with such lifeless man-made idols, seeing them in the local temples, the town square or even in their own homes. By contrast the hope of Christians was alive and found in relationship with the Living God.
Further, our hope is supported and sourced from our spiritual inheritance in Christ, where God has “… given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” (1 Peter 1:3–5) Hope is linked to the spiritual inheritance which is kept safe for us in heaven.
What difference does this make to us? Hope, like faith and love, is one of God’s frontline, essential workers at the coalface of life. Living hope is found where our relationship with Jesus intersects with the reality of daily life. When we encounter fear, hope in Christ can sustain us. Worry about a job, a difficult relationship or concerns about exams - from a slight fear, to lasting troubles – hope in Christ gives everything a different perspective for us.
Imagine for a moment the Golden Gate suspension bridge. The road crossing the Bay is suspended from two great towers. Our hope is like the road of life suspended on two strong towers: behind us the tower of Christ’s resurrection, before us the tower of our heavenly inheritance, and underneath us the road of hope. At times fog in San Francisco Bay may hide the towers from the view of those crossing the bridge, but just because they can’t be seen doesn’t mean they aren’t still supporting the road securely. Similarly, the fog of life, fears or concerns may conceal our view of the strong spiritual towers that hold us, but that fog can’t undermine the strength of God to support us and keep our hope secure.
Do you feel your reserves of hope are higher or lower than normal? What causes your hope to rise or fall?
What reasons did Peter give his readers for hope? How might these reasons help strengthen your hope?
How would you explain the idea of living hope to a young Christian?
Rev John Malcolm