Today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D.
Greer begins a new study of 1 Peter. What separates, listen, the people of God from the people of the world most distinctly is how they respond to disappointment, how they respond to pain, and how they have hope in the midst of suffering. That is to be the one area where Christians, followers of Jesus, are so distinctive that people just start to ask questions. Welcome to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of pastor, author, and theologian J.D.
Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. You know, from the first century to the 21st, Christians around the world have gladly given their lives for the sake of the gospel. There are countless stories of believers singing as they went to their execution and praying for their enemies. So where did they get that otherworldly courage? Pastor J.D. Greer answers that question today on Summit Life as we kick off a new teaching series called I Am an Alien. We are learning what it means to be in the world but not of the world. So grab your Bible as Pastor J.D.
starts us in the right place with today's message titled, I Don't Belong Here. First Peter, if you got your Bible open to First Peter, that's a book toward the end of the New Testament. The author of First Peter is Peter.
That's right, duh. That's why we call it First Peter. Peter is an apostle that everybody seems to like because there's just something about Peter that we seem to be able to identify with.
Is that not true? Peter's just a normal guy. He had a big mouth.
He said some stupid things. He was not real churchy either which sometimes I think we find refreshing. The apostle Paul is sometimes way up here.
You ever notice that? Peter's almost always way down here. Paul is like, you know, I'm a Pharisee of the Pharisees and I went to the highest school in the land and I got more credentials than you could ever dream of having and Peter's like, yeah, but I know the difference in a carp and a crappie. That comes out of my profession.
Paul's History Channel, Peter's Sports Center. Peter writes this book as a normal guy to normal people and he writes it to people who are in the midst of suffering. They don't understand why they're going through suffering.
They don't understand what they should do about it. One of the things that I think is helpful for us to see right as we begin this is that Bible writers never really hide themselves from the question of suffering. You see, every once in a while I get the impression that people feel like we came up with the questions of suffering and how suffering presents challenges to the idea that there is a good God.
We almost, it's almost like we assumed that back then everybody thought, of course, you know, all the wicked people get punished and all the good people get rewarded, but now, now we're aware of questions like, hey, a lot of good people go unrewarded and a lot of evil people seem to go unpunished and there are kids, innocent children that suffer all around the world so how could that possibly exist and there be a good God? You know, Peter is not only aware of that question, he and the people that he's writing to are living that question. At one point in this book, Peter's going to talk about the fiery trials they're going through.
That might have been literal. Some Roman emperors were known to dip political prisoners into oil and impale them on poles and then light them on fire. So when Peter says fiery trial, that might not even be a metaphor. I mean, we know for a fact that this happened to many Christians around Peter's time. Genocide was a part of the Roman ruling system.
The whole families, men, women, and children would be slaughtered on the whim of a Roman emperor. So all that to say is the people that Peter is writing to are living this question of suffering and a good God. All right, so let's begin in verse one. Here's what Peter says. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ to those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
Bithynia, all right. Elect exiles. That's a very important name. Elect means that they're the chosen people of God. Exiles means that they're not in their home territory.
Some translations may even say aliens there. All right, these were both names that have been given to the Jewish people at one point. The Jews were God's elect people. They'd been chosen by him. But at one point in their history, they've been driven out of Israel to live in a foreign land as exiles.
Peter now gives that name to the church. He says you are God's chosen people living in a land under the domination of an enemy power. So in other words, you don't really belong here. You're citizens of another country.
You are not privileged people here on the earth. Again, some translations say aliens. Some say strangers. You're odd.
That's one of the things he's going to try to explain. You're odd. You don't fit. That's just because you're tuned into something entirely different.
You've got a whole different set of values. Imagine, I know many of you watched football games this weekend. Imagine at, you know, halftime, you see one of those drum corps come out and take the field for the halftime show.
There's like five, six hundred of them. And of course, they're all focused on that one guy in the middle, that one guy or girl who is the conductor and they're leading and everybody is in lockstep marching to exactly the same beat. But you notice one guy in the middle who's got headphones on and he's listening to an Usher song that's being broadcast from, what's that, Foxy 107. Okay, he's listening to that on his, imagine how odd that guy is going to look. Now, it's not really odd if you consider what he's listening to, but he looks odd in the midst of everybody else because everybody else is marching to the beat of one conductor and he's listening to something entirely different. Peter says this is why you are odd because you have a whole different set of values and you are tuned in to an entirely different conductor. And by the way, if you're not odd, then that means that you're probably more in rhythm with the world than you are with God. And here's another good point, I think, that oddness is not supposed to be because of personality quirks, right? I know some of you are odd for that reason, that's not what he's talking about. You're not odd because you've created a Christian subculture where you use all the same words and because you like different kinds of music. And some of the churches I grew up in, that seemed to be what made Christians odd is that you just had this whole distinct subculture that defined who you are. That's not what he's talking about. What makes God's people odd is not how they dress and not special words that they use.
What makes them odd is how they don't listen at all to the things that the world says is important. And primarily that shows up, Peter's going to show you with a question of suffering. What separates, listen, the people of God from the people of the world most distinctly, you'll see this in 1 Peter, is how they respond to disappointment, how they respond to pain, and how they have hope in the midst of suffering. That is to be the one area where Christians, followers of Jesus are so distinctive, Peter's going to explain that people just start to ask questions. All right, verse 3. Blessed be, he says, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to his great mercy. According to his great mercy. Peter starts out reminding them of the mercy of God in their lives.
Here's why I think that's important. We tend to approach the questions of suffering as if, you know, we're all real good and all the bad stuff that's happening is, you know, not fair. You know the essence of religion, which people sometimes don't understand me when I say this, but the Bible is against religion? The Gospel is totally different than religion? The essence of religion is I'm good and God owes me. The essence of the Gospel is I am evil, but God is merciful, therefore I owe God.
And that creates two entirely different outlooks on life, entirely different approaches to God. So he reminds them of mercy. The Gospel is mercy. We deserve the wrath of God.
The world is under a curse, all of us. And God's goodness in our lives is mercy. In God's mercy, he has made us be born again to a living hope. The living hope. Hope is what you look forward to on the other side of pain. It's what tells you that everything's going to be okay. It's what tells you that it's all going to be worth it. It's what you hang on to that gives you, that gives your spirit something to grasp in the middle of all the pain.
That quest for hope is a universal human experience. I was listening to Tim Keller preach a message recently on this subject and he referenced the work of a guy named Viktor Frankl, who was a Jewish Austrian psychoanalyst that was imprisoned at Auschwitz. He had been taken captive by the Germans, but was one of the few survivors there. Frankl noted how different people responded to suffering in the death camps, and he wrote a book about it later called Man's Search for Meaning. He said it was to him fascinating, things that he noticed about how people would respond to this sense of hopelessness and pain. He said that some of the prisoners responded to their situation by becoming brutal and cruel themselves. He said sometimes it was a quest for power, sometimes it was just bitterness.
Others, Frankl said, would just give up. He wrote this and I quote, he said, usually this happened quite suddenly, the symptoms of which were familiar to us experienced camp inmates. We all feared for this moment and our friends. Usually it began one morning when the prisoner simply refused to get dressed or wash or go out to the parade grounds for inspection. No entreaties, no blows, no threats had any effect.
They just lay there. They'd given up. Nothing bothered them anymore because they no longer had hope. Many, he said, held on to the hope that if they stayed alive, their health, their family, their professional achievements, their fortune, their position in society, if they could just make it through Auschwitz, they would all be restored to them.
That was their hope. After liberation, though, he said that many of them came back to their homes and found that all those things were irretrievably gone. He said that many of them, a disturbingly high percentage of them, went into a deep depression and even committed suicide after having survived through the concentration camps.
Why? Because their hopes had been on the restoration of these things and they'd been shattered. Frankl in this book says that the ones who truly overcame Auschwitz were those who had a fixed reference point beyond the world, something they held onto that was out of the grasp of death and destruction and that the Nazis could never touch. And then Frankl makes this statement, life in a concentration camp tears open a soul and exposes its depths and its foundations.
That's essentially what Peter is saying here. Trials and pain expose where your hope is. We hope you're enjoying the start of this new teaching series in the book of 1 Peter.
But before we get back to it, I wanted to let you know about the latest resource that we are offering our listeners. It's a book called Scent, Living a Life That Invites Others to Jesus by Heather and Ashley Holliman. Now, if you're anything like me, finding opportunities to share the gospel with friends and neighbors can be tough.
I mean, sometimes I don't know where to begin and sometimes I just overthink it. So if that's you, this book is a must read. Heather and her husband, Ashley, offer practical ideas and strategies for how to naturally share the gospel with the people that God has put in your life. You'll learn about the best questions to ask to get a gospel conversation started, seven ways to pray for the lost, and even how to identify what kind of gospel witness that God has wired you to be.
To get your copy of this valuable resource, simply give us a call at 866-335-5220 or visit us online at jdgrier.com. Now let's get back to today's teaching. Once again, here's Pastor JD. There are some of you that are going through trials and pain and what is happening is where you hope is being exposed. For many of you, your hope in the midst of pain is in, just like Frankel said, your situation improving. So you think, well, you know, one day, one day I'm gonna get a job. One day I'm gonna have enough money. One day I'm gonna get the recognition that I deserve. One day I'm going to be married.
One day my body is no longer going to feel the pain of this disease and I am going to be healthy. And what happens is some of you get to a place in life where it looks like those things are no longer possible and you begin to despair. And you go through these same cycles that Frankel talks about where you get bitter.
Some of you, you get bitter, it kind of just colors your entire outlook on life. I mean, easy example on this, and I don't mean to pick on girls, but I think you'll follow this. You know, you ever seen a girl who gets hurt really bad by a guy? And her response is, all men are pigs.
Not a few of them, all of them. Why? Because the place where she placed her hope has been destroyed and now it makes her bitter toward everything. There's this response where when what you hope in is revealed, when it's shattered, you are left with the foundations of your soul and sometimes you see that there's nothing else to really hold on to. You begin to despair.
You know what I mean? Throughout my life, in difficult times in my life, I've noticed the things that I've held on to. There were times in my life where I didn't feel like I was getting the recognition I deserve.
So, you know, growing up I was like, yeah, but one day I'm going to become this and then everybody will know how awesome I am. That was the hope and then what happens is you get to a place where you feel like it's not going to happen and then you just, you respond with despair, you respond with bitterness. Peter says that you, to them, you've got a living hope, a hope like Frankl says that is beyond something that death and disease can touch. Where does this happen? Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, unfading, kept in heaven for you far away from anything that death or disease could touch.
There's your fixed reference point, by the way. Something glorious, something wonderful, something beyond the scope of this world. An inheritance and a hope that death and disease can't touch.
Something that is so glorious that it makes all the pain worth it. Peter says, I see this inheritance, this is very important, I see this inheritance through the resurrection of Jesus. Think for a minute about what the resurrection of Jesus meant for Peter. The darkest day of Peter's life had been when Jesus died on the cross. Peter had left everything to follow Jesus. He'd left his business, he'd left his home, and now Jesus had died and it threw him into a despair. In fact, you know, scholars tell us that the reason that Peter denied Christ three times in the space of an hour is because he was disappointed. He was disappointed that Jesus had not become what he thought Jesus would become. And in Friday and Saturday, Peter is in utter despair, but then Sunday morning, he goes and there's an empty tomb.
And he looks into that empty tomb and then he sees Jesus face to face and he realizes that the whole time, even when Peter thought that it was the darkest time he could imagine, God had a plan. And yes, Friday and Saturday were painful for him, but there was a Sunday coming that reversed all the pain of Friday and Saturday. And what Peter says to them is we all of us, all of us right now, are living in a kind of Saturday.
That's part of the idea of exiles. We're not living in the time of Sunday yet. We're not living in the resurrection. That's, right now, we're in a Friday and Saturday, but that time, he says, is brief, and the joy of resurrection Sunday is coming. So Peter's thinking about his experience where he despaired, and how the resurrection changed that.
He's saying that's what, that's what you're living in now. J.R.R. Tolkien described the resurrection as a time when every sad thing becomes untrue. There's actually Sam in the Lord of the Rings, the last one of those books where Sam said that, but that was J.R.R.
Tolkien talking through Sam. The resurrection is, is when every sad thing becomes untrue. There is a great Sunday morning in eternity where all sad things come untrue, where you are reunited with a lost child that you never got to know because they died in infancy, where there is no more pain, where all disease is taken away, where there's no more crying, and God wipes away every tear. That's what Peter means when he says an inheritance through the resurrection. You're living in Saturday, but there's a Sunday morning coming. Here's another thing I think Peter probably means by the resurrection, and I bring this up with you a good bit because it's kind of deep, but it's really important. So I come back to it a lot.
All right, so you ready? Get your theological big boy pants on. Peter saw in the resurrection that the time that it looked like God was most out of control, the cross, was the time when actually God was most in control because it wasn't just that God fixed the problem of the cross, right? It was that the cross actually was the thing that God was using to be good to mankind. It looked like God was out of control, but that was actually when God was doing his greatest work, right? Remember how I've explained this? And so what Peter is doing is he extrapolates from that and says, if that was true at the cross, don't you think it might be true in your life too? Don't you think that those times when it looks like God might be most out of control, that God might be doing his greatest work?
Peter's like, hey, I thought that God had fallen off the throne when Jesus died on the cross, but turn around and look at it, and now I realize God was never more in charge than he was at the cross. Yeah, the way I explained to you a few months ago was like this. I was like, there's kind of three kinds of movies that you'll see. There are happy movies that have happy endings. These are the kind of movies I like. There are sad movies that, you know, have really tragic endings that the critics like, which I don't like because, you know, they're like, oh, but it's so much more real to life. I'm like, yeah, I go to a movie so that I can escape the depression of life so that I can be happy for a few minutes. Don't make me, you know, right, but sad movies. There's a third kind of movie that's really probably the best kind, and that is a movie with a happy ending, that the happy ending is made up of all the tragic things that happened in the movie that somehow produce this good ending.
The example that I gave to you a few months ago was that movie Signs by M. Night Shamalala, hallelujah, remember that guy? Remember that movie Signs basically is you've got like an alien attack, and you've got this one guy who's got all these who's got all these problems in his family. He's got a brother who had a failed baseball career. His wife died in a wreck. His boy has asthma.
His little girl is OCD and she leaves cups of water everywhere. But at the end of the movie, these are the very things that enable the alien to be killed and defeated. By the way, I just blew the ending of that movie if you've never seen it, the alien dies. But the good ending at the end was made up of things that looked like tragedy for a while. The best stories are those where the bad things somehow are part of the great conclusion of the end. And in that moment, all the pain that we live with is swallowed up into something beautiful. What if you saw your life to the lens of the cross and the resurrection? What if you believed, what if you saw and believed that there was a glorious Sunday morning coming when every sad thing would come untrue? When there would be an inheritance that death and disease could never touch and you saw how even the most painful parts of your life, God was working toward that glorious end. If you saw that and you could just grasp it and live in it for just a second and you believed it, what would that give you? What would it give you?
Say it. Hope. So Peter says, verse six, in this, in this, in what? In this promise, you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you've been grieved by various trials. Here's something really interesting about the two verbs in that sentence. Rejoice and grieve.
First, they're both very intense verbs. Rejoice means intense rejoicing. Peter will, in just a few verses, say joy that is inexpressible. Have you ever been so overwhelmingly happy about something you just couldn't speak? Like my five-year-old when she got her American Girl doll for Christmas.
I mean, just four minutes of silence with joy inexpressible, she just can't speak. He's talking about a joy that's not just, hey, I'm happy. He's talking about a joy that is so intense that words can't flesh it out. Grieved. Grieved is the Greek word lupao, which means an intense grief. It's the same word that was used of Jesus when it says he was sorrowful unto death when he was on his way to the cross.
A grief that crushed him. All right, so that's, you notice they're both intense verbs. Second, they're both present tense verbs.
Both present tense verbs. You put that together and here's what you get. Walking, listen, walking with Jesus is often simultaneously great joy and deep pain. Walking with Jesus is often simultaneously great joy and deep pain.
Some of you don't think that's possible. Some of you can't have joy in the midst of bad circumstances because your joy is in certain circumstances. You don't have joy. What you have is happiness. Happiness, where the root word for happiness comes from is when what you want to happen happens. When what you want to happen happens, then you're happiness, right? You're happenininess.
You see it like that? There's a difference in joy and happiness. Happiness is when the happenings of your life are where they should be. Joy is something different. Altogether, they release this kind of joy. Some of you can't have joy in the midst of painful circumstances because your joy is a certain set of circumstances. Others of you, there's other Christians.
This is one of my pet peeves. You just kind of numb yourself to the reality that there is pain and you kind of put this positive spin on it where you just never really feel it. You walk around with this surreal look on your face, all chipper high. God is good all the time. You let go and let God. Don't worry, God'll put a rainbow on that dark cloud.
There's a silver lining. When Jesus went to the cross, Jesus is not like, well, praise the Lord. It's just he was overwhelmed with sorrow. He wept, he cried out to God. Christians hurt, but see, their hope can only go so deep because their ultimate hope is in a God who brings back life from the dead. Are you searching for that kind of joy? Thankfully, our ultimate joy comes from a God who brings life from the dead, a challenging start to our new series called I Am an Alien here on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. If you'd like to access today's teaching or any other message from our entire sermon library online, you can do that anytime for free at jdgreer.com, all thanks to the generosity of our gospel partners who give to support Summit Life so we can keep sharing the life-changing message of the gospel. When you join us in that mission as a gospel partner, we'll say thank you by sending you a copy of our featured resource this next month, a book called Sent, Living a Life That Invites Others to Jesus by Heather and Ashley Holliman.
The Hollimans write about what it looks like to live your life on an adventure with God as he sends us specifically to our neighbors, coworkers, and strangers in our natural pathways in order to introduce them to God. We'd love to send you a copy with your gift of $35 or more to this ministry. To donate, give us a call at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220, or visit us online at jdgreer.com. That's J-D-G-R-E-E-A-R.com. While you're on the website, be sure to sign up for our email list to get ministry updates and blog posts from Pastor JD delivered straight to your inbox. It's a great way to stay connected with Summit Life throughout your week.
Sign up when you go to jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch. Thanks again for being with us today and be sure to join us next time as we continue our teaching series called I Am an Alien. See you Friday right here on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
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