Tell the Story - It's Worth Telling Again and Again (part 3 of 3)
tell the story
it’s worth telling again and again (part 3 of 3)
1 Peter 1:3-9
the story of Jesus’ resurrection is one worthy of being celebrated always and eternally. why do some only celebrate once or twice a year?
The story of the ANZACs is repeated each year because it is a story of honour, of courage, of justice and sacrifice.
At various points in the history of our nation, the call has gone out to defend our country and its allies. Men and women have responded in various capacities and have served us by sacrificing themselves. Whether of the World Wars, or of other military actions even up to our present day, these are stories worth telling again and again because they inspire high ideals in all of us.
Our worship of the God revealed through the person and ministry of Jesus the Christ is also an act of remembrance, a sharing of a story that both inspires and realises the highest of ideals in us. Thus we gather to remember and to worship again and again.
1 Peter 1:3-9
1 Peter 1:3-9 reflects the reasons for and results of our worship:
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7so that the genuineness of your faith —being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire— may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
This passage is a “doxology”, an expression of praise used in public worship. As such, it also summarises doctrine, for the purpose of recitation and teaching.
With this in mind, the apostle Peter is giving praise to God, particularly recognising and asserting his relationship to Jesus (:3a).
Peter recalls “God’s past saving events [and moves] to their present results and future perfection”. Believers receive a “new birth” (:3b), which results in a “living hope” and an eternal inheritance (:4). These are “protected” (:5) Peter tells us, using a military term “that means ‘garrisoned about’”. Thus, believers, regardless of suffering (:6), worship God with joy and a faith that is commendable (:8), and are blessed with a salvation that is certain for the future and is being realised even now (:9).
the Easter celebration
The height of our worship was expressed on Easter Sunday, just two weeks ago. Our Easter Sunday public worship was full of rejoicing, since we recalled Jesus’ resurrection and all that meant for us.
Perhaps the spirit of that celebration is why Easter services typically have many visitors. Although many of our own members and friends were away, we were indeed blessed with extended family and other visitors.
Of course, knowing that the nature of Easter Sunday public worship is always going to be celebratory, visitors will come, which is why we make a point of publicising our Easter worship. But, this fact does beg the question of why many of those visitors only visit a church once a year? They do know that they will hear the good news of Jesus’ resurrection; they come so that they may join us in celebration of his resurrection. But why only once, or even a second time at Christmas?
Perhaps they don’t realise that this good news is really meant to be celebrated always, for eternity. As a Churches of Christ church, we celebrate his resurrection every Sunday through the sacrament of Communion. We do so because we believe this good news is power for living, not just for an occasional warm spiritual cuddle. This good news means something to us, it makes a difference to our lives and, we believe, can even make a difference to our world.
a commendable faith
Those who gather here today and every Sunday are the faithful, those who believe without seeing (:8). What Peter means by this is that we were not the privileged ones who witnessed Jesus’ life, death and resurrection in realtime. We believe in the God revealed by Jesus because of the testimony of those who walked with him and listened to his every word and witnessed his every miracle. We test their testimony against the record of Scripture and against our own reason and experience.
Do not mistakenly assume that faith is ‘blind’ and based on nothing trustworthy, as some do. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews noted that, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Because, as we have noted, our belief in Jesus is primarily based on the tests of scripture, reason and experience, we are certain of that which we believe, that God does exist and does care for us. Faith translates that belief into action, that is to say that our lives are intentionally guided by that which we believe, and that is how faith is much more than belief alone. All the various standards of evidence support our belief and, thus, our faith and faithful living.
Such faith is to be commended as the story of Jesus’ resurrection is certainly worth remembering. The apostle Peter recognises that such faith may result in various forms of suffering (1 Peter 1:6) —whether discrimination or even persecution at the hands of family, peers, associates or authorities. Surprisingly, Peter admits that not only does God know about our suffering, but also is involved to the degree that he allows our suffering (:7b). Do not make the same mistake of Christianity’s opponents! This does not make God responsible for our suffering, as this does not make him the source of our suffering. While he could prevent our suffering, he allows it because there is a benefit to our suffering: our faith is tested and strengthened. This may be small consolation during any suffering that we are forced to endure, but, considering that it results “in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed” (:7c), our perspective must recognise the worth of suffering.
Consider the story of the ANZAC soldiers, whose suffering and death secured justice and freedom for oppressed peoples. We celebrate their sacrifice because it had long-lasting results: people were rescued, tyrants were overthrown, and Australia is a better country due to their example and their ideals. How much more so does the sacrifice of Jesus inspire us to sacrifice —that is, “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [our] God” (Micah 6:8)? Such sacrificial living results in the glorious transformation of ourselves, of our neighbours and even of our nation. How much more so does the resurrection of Jesus both inspire and give us abundant life?
The faith that confesses that “Jesus is Lord” and believes that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9) is faith that is commendable. We do not need to “be ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith” (1:16).
The good news of Jesus is a story worth remembering and celebrating, but not just once a year, but every Sunday and even every day and even every moment of every day, to the glory and honour and praise of the God revealed by Jesus the Christ!