To celebrate the eternal king’s inauguration is to celebrate how, through Jesus, we find freedom from the bondage of sin and death. We who were far off have been brought near into a restored relationship and eternal rest with God (Eph. 2:13).
Peter’s words were written to Gentile Christians living as “foreigners and exiles” in the Roman Empire (1 Pet. 2:11). They were noncitizens or temporary residents in a world that highly valued citizenship in its social hierarchy. It was also a time when Rome’s tolerance for religious freedom was diminishing. Peter was writing to marginalized and persecuted Christians, suffering for their allegiance to King Jesus. In 1 Peter 2:9, the apostle provides his readers with a healing balm, a reminder that God, not people, determined their true identity. Peter uses four phrases to describe their identity in Christ: a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and God’s special possession.
His words point back to Exodus 19:4–6, where God explained to Moses the purpose behind his desired covenant with Israel. Israel had been set apart to show the world what it meant to worship the one true God. They would experience his blessing as they served as a conduit for God’s blessing to the world.
Suffering and persecution can dehumanize and demoralize a people, stripping them of their dignity and hope. What the world tried to take from these Christians, Peter sought to restore. He reminded these “foreigners and exiles” of their elevated status. Through Christ, they were members of the family of Abraham with direct access to the divine. They had an eternal status as royal priests set apart to lead the nations to God.
Through the gospel, we who have been dehumanized are rehumanized, clothed with strength and dignity because of the one in whose image we are made. But in a world infected with sin and evil, it can be easy to forget.
We forget we belong to God. Blinded by the struggles of life, we have difficulty seeing the eternal hope we have simply because we are his.
But in the words of Shirley Caesar, “This hope that we have, the world didn’t give it to us, and the world can’t take it away.” No matter how dark the night is, we always have hope. Through Christ, God’s steadfast love and faithfulness follow us forever. So, in the midst of suffering and persecution, our eyes look to the eternal, not the temporal. We remember that our identity, value, and calling are determined by God, not by man. We will be his people for eternity; our forever home is with him.
Elizabeth Woodson is a Bible teacher, theologian, author, and the Founder of The Woodson Institute, an organization that equips believers to understand and grow in their Christian faith.
This article is part of The Eternal King Arrives, a 4-week devotional to help individuals, small groups, and families journey through the 2023 Advent season . Learn more about this special issue that can be used Advent, or any time of year at http://orderct.com/advent.
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