Don't you love to get mail? No, not an email, but the old fashioned kind - snail mail. A real life, handwritten card or letter addressed to you. I certainly do!
Receiving genuine encouragement in a one-of-a-kind handwriting from another human being lifts my spirits and makes me feel important. Of course, any type of encouragement is welcomed and greatly appreciated, but those who go the extra mile? Well, it just means a little more.
In 1 Peter, this apostle of Jesus Christ addresses his letter, "To those chosen..."
My ears and eyes perked up as I lingered on the word, chosen. Peter's letter is written specifically to anyone who has chosen Christ.
That means me!
I've got mail!
Expressed throughout this passionate letter is the core of what we believe, who we are in Christ, and what we've been called to. It encompasses the very oxygen of the Christian faith, and with such clarity, it sends a fresh wind into the hearts of the chosen ones of God.
Peter emphasizes how we should live as God's chosen, His beloved, and when we behave as if we're not chosen, we're displeasing the Father.
How do we know we're chosen? 1 Peter 1:2 explains:
...chosen, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,
through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit,
to be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ.
God's chosen are recognizable. Our faith and covering by the blood of the Lamb are evidenced through the Holy Spirit working within us to transfigure us into the image of Christ. The Spirit's sanctifying work does not stop until we see Christ face to face. Until then, we must seek to be obedient day by day.
Most people, and even many pastors and teachers, don't like to speak on the concept of the foreknowledge of God mentioned in the above verse. And those who do, seem to dicker and bicker over what it means. But in my finite, simple mind, this is how I understand and will seek to explain this mystery:
Anyone who has chosen or will choose Christ, God already knows.
Anyone who has completely rejected or will reject the Son, sadly, He already knows that, too.
God has given us a choice, and He knows what we'll choose. Because of this, God chooses us before we choose Him. He can't help Himself. He has to know because He's omniscient - all knowing. It's who He is. His desire, though, is for no one to perish (John 3:16-18), but He also knows many will, because they will refuse His grace gift of salvation and reject His Truth.
And it breaks God's heart.
Peter was empowered by the Holy Spirit to write the letter to the chosen. I believe he wrote it to clarify our calling to live separate, holy lives, and to encourage us in our sanctification process. Peter included specific instructions for how we are to behave in this world while all the while understanding we're not part of this world. It's by our behavior that we encourage those around us to choose or not to choose Christ. A serious responsibility, my dear friends.
As I continue to read and ponder through 1 Peter over the next months, I'll continue to marvel at the mystery of how God chose me knowing I would choose Him. It's inside this mystery that we can know for sure, and live as His chosen.
Have you got mail?