I had the great privilege to travel to central Africa in the fall of 2019 as a part of a team who was checking on a Grace Church sponsored ministry that was training up leaders, pastors and evangelists to carry the gospel to the most remote places in Africa. It was a very hot but amazing trip. I can specifically recall walking out of the N’Djamena airport and the culture shock hitting me. It was clear I wasn’t in northeast Ohio or even in America.
This was a whole new world.
I can’t help but think that is where Christians are in their faith. It is crystal clear that we are quickly transitioning to post-Christian culture where sin runs rampant and Christians are being called out and persecuted for our faith.
In the series that’s to come, we are going to study Peter’s first letter to believers scattered abroad. It was during this time where the first, and brutal, wave of persecution from the hands of Nero was on the horizon. Little did they know…maybe they did…just how intense this next season would be for them. Their faith would be tested to its very limit and they would be challenged, more than anything, with what position of authority they placed Jesus in their lives.
Would they bend under the gruesome torture at the hands of the Romans, as their bodies were lit aflame, or would they hold on to the truth of the gospel and the hope that they have been promised from Jesus?
In Peter’s letter, there are 6 distinct areas, or characteristics, that Peter encourages believers to hold onto in the midst of their upcoming persecution.
While verses 1 and 2 of chapter 1 lay out the context, I want John 16:33 to be the backdrop for this series. Among Jesus’ parting words to His disciples was:
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Christians, at the time of Peter’s writing and us today, know that we have and will continue to face trouble for our faith as we will be ostracized and persecuted for it. In the midst of this, while knowing the true capacity of our trials, Jesus tells us to keep heart:
“I have overcome the world.”
While we will face storms for our faith, the battle has already been won. Believer, when we breathe our last breath, life doesn’t end…it truly begins.
As you start this next series, I encourage you to pray for hope and encouragement. It is our prayer that this series will give you something to hold on to in the mist of this culture shift.
Tough times are ahead. We are all in this together!
Take heart, however, Jesus has already overcome the world!