Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that is in you.” These words can be found in the letters of the apostle Peter. They imply two things: suffering and difficulty (who needs hope when everything is going well), and hope in the midst of that suffering and difficulty. These words were written over two thousand years ago into a Roman world full of challenges, especially for those who found themselves swept up in the movement of Jesus’ church, living as the people of God in a foreign land. Varying levels of authority, social inequality, false teachers, personal temptations, and doubts about God were all difficulties that this new people faced. They knew the gospel of Jesus should impact them, but how? At a surface level, the world we find ourselves in is very different from the one Peter lived and wrote in. At a fundamental level though, there is much in common.
Today, there are all kinds of questions about how to deal with the authority of human institutions, the social inequalities that surround us, deceitful leaders, individual struggles and temptations, and doubts about God. Ultimately, these are questions of how to live as the people of God in a foreign land. The letters of 1-2 Peter invite us into a world altogether different, yet similar, full of these questions. They invite us to look toward the new future that Christ makes possible, even in the midst of suffering and difficulties; they urge us to participate in that future reality, and insist that at all times, we be prepared to explain the reason for the hope that is in us.