Standing in Strange Grace
My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace.
1 Peter 5:12 (NLT)
The first readers of Peter’s letter might have been wondering if God’s favor was really upon them. After all, they were being persecuted for their faith. The new kingdom they had embraced upon hearing the gospel was not all tea and roses. They had come to realize that hostile powers were aligned against God’s established king and his people. Probably some had mocked them for not being more prosperous in material things and more victorious over physical maladies. There have always been some in the church who measure everything by the same metrics as the surrounding society. Peter reassures them that they have heard the true gospel and that they are experiencing the true grace of God. He exhorts them to stand in this grace.
Grace has given them a firm grip on identity. They have been chosen to be God’s people reflecting his image to the world. They are living stones in God’s final temple. They have been born of the seed of God’s word and have his word growing in them. They are a part of restored Israel. They are royal priests, a holy nation, and God’s own possession. No matter what circumstances may present themselves, the identity that God’s grace has bestowed is solid.
Grace has given them a divine perspective on suffering. Since trust is God’s greatest treasure, he uses trials to purify our complete trust in him. He wants more than anything for his people to trust him alone. When our trust is tried by fire, we find him more than adequate and more than enough. It is not what we get when we trust that is the goal but trust itself. There is nothing more fulfilling than to live in intimate fellowship with someone who is totally trustworthy and able to accomplish anything. What could be more secure? What could be more liberating? Such valuable faith reflects the glory of God and is attractive to those who are jaded by this world’s pretension. We are fulfilling our purpose when we reflect his true image.
Grace gives a joyous expression of life, as well as a kind of fear that purifies. We know that God will judge all things and set everything right. This judge is our father, and we have already been judged in Jesus our representative. He has already declared that we are justified, and now we live with him as he works through us to bring justice and mercy to the world in which we live. We are holy because he is holy and we live in him. We are free to love because we have been redeemed from the slavery of both legalism and rebellion. We are not afraid of human structures of authority because we are already submitted to the ultimate authority in Jesus the Lord. We know that we are being stalked by the Accuser, but we know the Spirit of truth who will enlighten our minds to combat the lies of Satan.
We are not trying to gain grace by our works. We stand in the grace that has provided us all things we need to be God’s people on earth at this time. It might seem like strange grace to those who crave comfort, but this grace has done for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves and it has made us what God intended at creation.