I Peter 1:1-2
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
I was reading in 1 Peter last night at dinner time, and was just sort of captivated by the opening verses. In the text Peter introduces himself and then addresses the letter to, “…the pilgrims of the Dispersion”.
Intrigued, I asked my daughter Kayden to tell me what that meant. We bantered the words pilgrim and dispersion around a bit and she got it all figured out. She’s a bright one. But in the process of doing such, it just made for me a realization of the heart or condition of some of God’s creation. It is of this that I wish to speak today.
Pilgrims are pilgrims for different reasons. The Pilgrims we first think of here in the US were puritan Christians who were ready to try anything, go anywhere to be able to be free to celebrate their faith and love God as they saw fit; unencumbered by any King or government. Other pilgrims return to their places of worship or Holy sites to pay homage and give their respects not only to those who had come before them, but to the God that created and sent them.
The Dispersion of which Peter is speaking of are Romans and Greeks alike that were forced out of most of the major cities of the area because of their belief in “The Way”. The Way was the early mocking designation for Christianity while it was still considered a red-headed step child of the Jews; it was a “sect”, not a religion of its own. No matter how you look at it, it is a people of faith returning to their root. Jews immigrating back to Israel to this day are referred to as the Diaspora. What was true in Peter’s day is still on-going today.
How many people do you know that are spiritual Diaspora; people who were born into a family of faith that have been ‘forced out’ by the world? How many people do you know of personally whom you’d like to see make a pilgrimage to faith? To make a decision to return to a life of faith, and committing one’s self to Jesus is the most important decision anyone can make. But it requires a pilgrimage of heart.
Peter knew this. He writes this letter to those people who have been forced to leave the comfort of their fellowships to encourage them. He goes on to tell them in verses 3-9:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
What wonderful words. These are the words that we too can use for the Diaspora in our lives. For those whom we know that are pondering making that pilgrimage of faith, remind them the power of salvation is with the God that they have left. That because of Jesus death and resurrection that they too inherit what is incorruptible. And perhaps more than anything remind them that they are not alone in their trials, that they are sure to come, and that they are made perfect through them because it gives them opportunity to express the genuineness of their faith.
I’d be remiss at this moment if I did not remind you that to take God’s word to the spiritual Diaspora in your life is to not shine the genuineness of your faith. Show them the love that they have not seen, and that you have. Remind them that in spite of the fact that you may not have seen Jesus, that you have seen Him work in your life, and that He wants to work in theirs. Help bring the Diaspora home.