(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
Well, I would title the first verse of 1 Peter, “Who Do You Think You Are?” Listen to what his greeting is, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” Now, that probably doesn't jump off the page at you. But Peter wants to start in the beginning saying, “The Christian life, your walk with God, is not just about being forgiven, but it's about being a new person in Christ, having this brand-new identity leading to a new way of living.”
And so, you see that in Peter’s introduction of himself. When we say “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,” it's just so easy to say, “Yeah, right! He was an apostle,” and move on. But think of what is packed into that little phrase. Peter is putting his writing forward, not based on what he's accomplished, not based on what he knows, but he's saying, “Look what I've been given.” I mean, just consider Peter’s story. He was the disciple that just didn't seem to get it right, arrogant, impulsive; and even though he was warned, he ended up denying Christ. Shocking! Shocking moment!
Now, you would think, at that point, Peter is done; he's done. That's the ultimate, to deny your connection to Jesus. But this amazing Savior of forgiveness wasn't done with this man and restored him to Himself and set him on his ministry mission. The last person you think would be an apostle, writing this rich, wise, practical, encouraging gospel, would be Peter. Peter stands as a powerful example of saving, empowering, calling grace. And the authority he is putting forth as an apostle is not his; it's Christ’s. Man, if God can use Peter, there's hope for all of us! How encouraging just that first phrase is.
And then consider Peter’s introduction of his audience. They’re elect exiles; that's us too. Here's part of your identity, “You've been chosen by God to be different.” You've been chosen by God, not to fit in to the secular world, you've been chosen by God to be misunderstood. That's not God turning His back on you; that's God claiming you as His own, separating you out from the mass of humanity by His grace. Sure, you're different, and he says that you're “elect exiles.” That means this is not your final home; life is not about the stuff that you build here. This is a passage to your final home. You have a different citizenship, not just in the kingdom of this world; but you've been invited by grace into the kingdom of God.
You have a different set of values, not my wants, my needs, my feelings. But there's One who has a purpose for me, different goals, and hopes. I mean, the ultimate goal in the Christian life is not my success, and my power, and my affluence, but it's God's glory.
A different set of hopes. You serve a different King. By grace, these Gentiles have inherited the Covenant Promises made to Abraham. And they will never ever be the same! C.S. Lewis says, “If you struggle fitting into this world, perhaps it's because you were made for another world.” Elect exiles!