3 May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! On account of his vast mercy, he has given us new birth. You have been born anew into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 4 You have a pure and enduring inheritance that cannot perish—an inheritance that is presently kept safe in heaven for you. 5 Through his faithfulness, you are guarded by God’s power so that you can receive the salvation he is ready to reveal in the last time.
6 You now rejoice in this hope, even if it’s necessary for you to be distressed for a short time by various trials. 7 This is necessary so that your faith may be found genuine. (Your faith is more valuable than gold, which will be destroyed even though it is itself tested by fire.) Your genuine faith will result in praise, glory, and honor for you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Although you’ve never seen him, you love him. Even though you don’t see him now, you trust him and so rejoice with a glorious joy that is too much for words. 9 You are receiving the goal of your faith: your salvation.
The early church had a major problem: Jesus was late.
By that I mean, everyone was expecting that he would soon return. Everyone was sure that the new “kingdom” he’d promised would pop in to existence any day. And when it didn’t – especially during times when Christians were suffering persecution – the Church needed reassurance. 1 Peter was written to provide believers that reassurance. People needed to know that the promise was still trustworthy, despite the suffering daily before their eyes.
We can still identify with the idea of a promise that seems unfulfilled. Every year we celebrate the “advent” (a Latin word meaning “arrival”) of Jesus with glimpses of the kindness, love and generosity he promised. But just like Christmas decorations and colored lights, after January 1 it all seems to disappear.
This passage uses the word “salvation” twice – once as a current reality (v.9) and once as a future reality (v.5). Our situation is that we live in the in-between. In-between what God has done and what God ultimately will do. Living in the in-between is always uncomfortable. When we look around at the suffering world around us, it always seems like God is late.
In these times, we fall back on the evidence of how the Divine has been at work in our own lives – in our own experiences of God’s goodness, of Christ’s transforming love, of the Spirit’s guiding presence. This is what salvation looks like. And though we may not yet be able to see what that looks like for the whole world, we know what it means for us – and it gives us the faith to keep sharing Jesus’ love with others. This is how we live in the in-between.
For Pondering & Prayer
There are lots of in-between spaces in our lives – times when we have had to let go of comfortable old ways, even when the new ways were not yet clear. If you’re in one of those times now, can you talk with God about the possibilities rather than your fears?
Today, how can you provide reassurance in some of those in-between spaces for your family, in your workplace, or in other groups you care about?