A Story to Tell
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We kicked off 1 Peter several weeks ago (even I don't remember how long ago), and he prayed for a very simple thing in his brief introduction.
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
He identifies himself and then prays that two specific things be compounded for them on their behalf: the grace and peace of God.
Grace is the Greek word charis, which appears 154 times in the short New Testament. God's grace was obviously very precious to Peter, as he referred to it 10 times in this short letter. I have to wonder if it was so precious because he lived it and experienced it, rather than just heard about it. He wrote about it, rather than just read about it.
Peter had personally, incredibly experienced the grace of God. Remember the story? He was told by Jesus he would have a chance to defend Him and he would instead choose to deny Him. Peter flatly denied that would ever happen! (Guess who was right.)
Peter denied Jesus three times, just as He said he would, and it cut him to his core. After he denied Him the third time, the Lord looked right at Him (Luke 22:61), and Peter broke down (Mark 14:72) and wept bitterly (Matt 26:75).
You know the rest of the story...
Jesus died and rose and then restored Peter to full fellowship and leadership in this new thing called the Church (John 21).
Peter had lived in and experienced the grace of God. Christians can feel ripped off a bit that we have not experienced grace like Peter, so we have less of a story to tell. Is that true?
Vincent Donovan is an American Roman Catholic priest who worked seventeen years in Tanzania as a missionary to the Maasai. The region was rich in wildlife, especially in big game. A Maasai elder once used the lion as a picture of God’s initiative of grace:
We did not search you out, Padre.… We did not even want you to come to us. You searched us out. You followed us away from your house into the bush, into the plains, into the steppes where our cattle are, into the hills … into our villages, into our homes. You told us of the High God, how we must search for him … but … we have not searched for him. He has searched for us. He has searched us out and found us. All the time we think we are the lion. In the end, the lion is God.
The Lion sought you out, found you, and rescued you. We all have a story to tell!
Everyone who is in Christ can tell the story:
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
"See" you Sunday, fellow, saved wretches!
Stay tuned for details on Pastor Ed's retirement festivities and how to give gifts if you like! Coming in next week's email.