In 1Peter 1:1-12 Peter has reminded us of the grand and glorious salvation that we have in Jesus Christ.

This salvation is the work of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

This salvation issues from God’s mercy and grace.

This salvation involves a new birth and a new inheritance.

This salvation is totally secure and constant; it cannot perish spoil or fade; it is kept safe by God himself.

This salvation is both present and future.

This salvation is a source of immeasurable joy.

This salvation was spoken of by the Old Testament writers.

This salvation is so wonderful and so mysterious that even the angels long to understand it.

Yet even as he wrote of this grand, secure salvation, Peter knew that being a Christian is not easy.

Christians live as strangers on the earth, unwanted, scattered.

Christians suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

Christians find themselves under pressure to give up and give in.

So grand and glorious is the salvation given to us in Christ, so precious, so immense, so desirable, so long-awaited, that Peter, knowing the pressures experienced by Christians, encourages us to stand strong.

He begins his encouragement by giving us a series of connected instructions in 1:13-16:

‘Prepare your minds for action ...’ As Christians, our thoughts, our understanding, our capacity for moral and spiritual reflection are to be always ready, always prepared to meet any circumstance, and always ready for the return of Christ. The KJV translation ‘gird up the loins of your mind’ uses the imagery of an outer robe hitched up and tucked into the girdle in readiness for action, so that there is nothing to hinder or distract. This command reminds us of the importance of our minds.

‘... be self-controlled ...’ Here Peter uses the word for ‘sober’, that is, ‘abstain from wine’, to teach us that we must not surrender the control of our lives (thoughts, attitudes, words, actions). We must not allow anyone or anything to dictate how we live. We must not be ‘under the influence’ of anything. Again, our minds are the important thing here, not our feelings. Our feelings would at times induce us to give up on Christ because it is too hard, but our minds remind us of the truths of the Gospel.

‘... set your hope fully of the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.’ Here is the sure and certain goal that is to motivate us. Here is the one thing that should dictate how we think and how we live. Here is the one thing that will ensure our minds are prepared for action. The anticipation, the expectation, the knowledge, the grand assurance that Christ is coming back, and coming back for us, to take us with him into eternal glory: this ‘hope’, this certainty, this amazing grace. On this future grace our hope is to be fully fixed.

‘... do not conform ...’ Those who believe in Christ are now God’s children. As such, we are to put aside the ‘evil desires’ that used to rule us when we were ignorant of God.

‘... be holy in all you do ...’ Rather than continue to pursue our evil desires we are to imitate our heavenly Father. As he is holy, so are we, his children, to be holy – utterly distinct from all that we used to be, and utterly distinct from the world that surrounds us.

Peter thus challenges us to a high-level Christianity – a Christianity that reflects the nature of God and the value of our salvation. Both the God who has called us, and the hope to which he has called us, are so great and so glorious that anything suffered because of that calling, and anything put aside because of that calling, are offset a thousand times over by the grace and the glory that will be ours when Jesus Christ is revealed.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2017