The Church as Family…

Read 1 Peter 5:12-14
“…Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” (v 14b)

Some Thoughts…

   Every time I read a final greeting in an epistle, I am struck by the personal nature of it.  It is as if we moved from  some public speech where everyone was on the same page to an “inside” conversation between family and friends, and that is what I see here in the closing words of 1 Peter.

   I see the real life relationship of the early Church expressed in the cooperation of Peter and Silas who was known to be closely related to Paul’s ministry, yet here it is revealed in a dear friend and helper to Peter also.  Silas probably helped Peter write his letter and delivered it.  Silas was a cultured Roman citizen who was a world traveler and Peter was a common fisherman transformed by Jesus.  Both men were made new by Christ.  And then there is John Mark, Peter’s “son” in the ministry, who is said to have collaborated with Peter in the writings of the Gospel of Mark.  Mark also had ties to Paul. He started with Paul on is his first missionary journey but abandoned him before it was over, and yet Mark is still someone who was useful to Paul in the end.

  So here we have these men sharing in the struggles to make the TRUE GOSPEL of GRACE known (v 12b); real people in a real world facing real opposition.  But there is more; there is this description of a lady in Babylon. Now Babylon had become ruins by the time Peter writes this, so what did he mean?  It almost seems like code; a word picture of the Church living in a strange land in captivity. Maybe Peter was referring to Rome and the persecution of Christians, or maybe he was making a reference to our “resident alien” status as believers (2:11).  Whatever the specifics may mean, it seems clear that it was understood that all who were “in Christ” understood.  And Peter reminds them to stand fast in the truth of all he has been telling them and not give way to false ideas of God.

   And then he ends his letter with two tender images.  One is an image of family-love; embracing each other with a kiss.  And the other is a state of mind; clinging to God’s peace that will not pass away – a peace that only God can give and the world cannot take away (John 14:23).  These were Real people, this is the real and true Gospel of grace, and we are a real family of folks given over completely to Christ…that is the insider’s view of the early church and must be the full expression of it still today.

A Prayer…

Father, may I be useful to build Your church as a family of “resident aliens” loving You and loving each other as family, full of grace and peace as we await YOUR RETURN. You are our Lord, Savior and Judge – Jesus Christ.  Amen.