Peter began his letter by reminding the “elect exiles” – these were the very first Christians, living in times of sure persecution – about who they were. They were “born again.”
They were born again by the “great mercy” of God. This happened through the resurrection of Christ, and it assures Christians they have a hope that is absolutely rock solid. Their hope is, as Peter wrote, imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, and it is kept in heaven, waiting for each one of them.
This is who the “elect exiles” were. And his is who we are – any of us who have put our faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. We are born again.
Peter then pivoted, about midway through chapter 1, to begin talking about how Christians should live. Difficult things were happening to the church, and more difficult things would happen to the church in later years. Persecution and tribulation would cause problems for Christians. Those things still cause problems for Christians across the world.
How are Christians to live? Peter said their minds are to be prepared for “action.” Christians aren’t to fall slavishly under the influence of the world and the old things that kept us entertained and busy. No, Christians are to be “sober-minded.” We’re to focus on the grace of God.
And we’re to be holy.
That’s a big thing. Holiness is something we know we are incapable of achieving on our own. It’s a big demand that God is making of us. “Be holy.” This means, however, not so much that we need to be perfect but that we live as people who are set apart for God. We’re different from the world. We are his.
And then, again, Peter reminded his listeners they had been “born again.”
We aren’t just any kind of human beings. We are people who have been given the greatest gift imaginable – eternal life and entrance into the family of God. We are privileged people in that we no longer have anything to fear in this life.
Because we are born again, we are God’s children. We have a Father who loves us. This is a wonderful place to be, and I suspect we don’t often appreciate just how blessed we are – to be born again.
Peter got this idea from Jesus, who told Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). A person must be born again in order to join the family of God and experience eternal life.
Jesus also said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). And we recognize the faith aspect – and the other-worldly aspect – of being born again. When I read this, I understand Jesus to be saying we are born again through the waters of baptism, which follow our faith and our obedience to the truth of Jesus Christ.
At the same time, we welcome the transforming impact of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We aren’t born again without the power of the Holy Spirit – the power of God. Remember, it also was written, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). Peter said we are born again according to the “great mercy” of God (1 Peter 1:3).
We have a new parent, indeed. And this business of being born again is God’s business. He makes it possible. We submit to it.
These are good things to think about.
So is Peter’s instruction that Christians are to live with “brotherly love” toward one another (1 Peter 1:22). We do this because we are part of the family of God, and this is how our Father desires us to live. Like in our biological families, we don’t get to choose who are siblings are. We are simply to love them.
Spend some time considering these things today.