Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia … (1Peter 1:1)
I must admit I don’t often meditate much on the introductory verses in the Bible letters. But today this one gives me pause for thought. That may partly be because last night in our Alpha group we were discussing the concept of not being conformed to the world (Romans 12:2). This concept is expressed in the Bible in various different places: we are in the world, but not of the world (Jn 17:14-16); and here Peter calls God’s people “strangers in the world.”
Of course we want to be normal, not weird. Let’s not put people off the Christian gospel by imposing strange dress, odd language and daft traditions. Oops – isn’t it the case that our strangeness often consists in these things and not in the things that we really ought to stand out in?
But my meditations this morning have been more along the lines of identity and belonging. How important it is to know who we are and to whom we belong. Peter, secure in his own identity as an apostle of Jesus Christ, calls his readers strangers in the world, scattered throughout it. Naturally feeling insecure, then. Perhaps standing out ethnically as well as religiously from those around them.
To that group of scattered strangers, Peter reminds them that they are “God’s elect.”
Christian, however out of sorts with your culture you may feel, remember that you are chosen by God. So, scattered as we are, we can change the atmosphere in our workplace, our street or our social gathering just by our presence. And we have a powerful reason to resist the pressure to conform: we are God’s elect.
Be a stranger today, and allow God to scatter you wherever he wants.
Grace to you.