A genuine faith in Jesus means a life fully surrendered to Him - He becomes your number one priority in everything you do. Think about that for a second: that’s tall task — to completely give up your life to live for Jesus! The reasons why I should do that better be good! A saving faith takes dedication, and that effort will never be put in if our faith foundation is based off of faith of another or an emotional experience. So, why should we love God? (Part IV)
Peter was one of the first followers of Jesus, and an inner-circle disciple. He was passionate, he loved intensely, and was a natural leader. The night Jesus was arrested gives us a snapshot of Peter: before Jesus was taken, Peter “emphatically” claimed that he would literally die for Jesus. Moments later, after Jesus was arrested, Peter denied he even knew Jesus. Peter utterly betrayed Jesus. But a few days after the death of Jesus, Peter was one of the first to see the resurrected Christ, and that was a game changer. He went from denying Jesus to living his entire life to Him, enduring suffering and persecution, all the way to a horrific death. The resurrection had made a massive impact on Peter.
At the time he wrote 1 Peter, Peter was an established leader of the Christian church, which was experiencing intense persecution. Christians refused to worship the Roman emperor as god (traitors), wouldn’t worship at pagan temples (bad for business), and Christians exposed and rejected immoralities found at pagan temples. People were suspicious of Christians, which eventually led to violence. If anyone needed a good reason to follow and love Jesus, it’s these people who were suffering and dying for their faith.
In 1 Peter 1:3-5, we find a deeply meaningful reason that God deserves our love and devotion:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in Heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
Peter, speaking to persecuted Christians, says through the resurrection of Jesus, we’re given new birth. Of all people, Peter truly experienced a complete re-birth transformation after witnessing the resurrection first hand. But this was no disappear/reappear magic trick for no reason — no, the resurrection has the power to completely change and redefine humanity. That’s why the term “born again” is the perfect description - anyone who trusts in the power of it, is completely changed. Once completely blinded by sin, selfishness, darkness - now eyes opened and heart warmed to God’s love. Lives that are now centered on love for others, before love of self.
Because of the resurrection, we’re given an eternal, unchanging, never-fading hope. Humans have a psychological need for hope to survive. This sets us apart from all other creatures. We have a need for our lives to be structured into a story to fulfill a greater purpose and to have meaning — that’s where we put our hope. We all agree with this on a core level, because once hopes and dreams are taken away — it's absolutely crushing. Whether you put your hope in your abilities, career, or a person — when it’s taken from you, there’s a serious loss of purpose. But Peter says we’re given a hope that we can trust is secured for all eternity — it’s kept and guarded by God Himself. It’s eternal security, salvation, life without tears or pain, no more insecurities or anxieties — in the presence of the One who made you and loves you more than anyone ever could…
Now, how is this answering our question, why we should love God? Look at the first word of 1 Peter 1:3: “praise.” Because of the resurrection, because of this hope that we’re given: praise God! Adore Him, worship Him, love Him! Why should we love God? Because He gives us hope - a hope that is unchangeable, meaningful, eternal. Hope is foundational to humanity, and everything in this world will only be a let down. Careers can crumble, relationships can be taken away in an instant, and accomplishments will come up hollow. God provides a hope that we can look to and know that it is secure. This is why Christians can find genuine joy, even in the hardest of times, because there is a greater hope to hold on to for the future, that’s rooted in the saving power of the resurrection. This is why Peter used hope of the resurrection to comfort persecuted Christians — times are hard, but we can hope in something far greater…
But this conversation forces us to look at ourselves and ask the reflective question: what is your true hope? What are you really hoping in? Who are the people in my life that my hope is found in? When people in life fade away and dreams crushed, we’re forced to examine what our true hope is. God offers us hope that is secure, eternal, and cannot be touched by any life circumstance. If and when we accept that, we find a very real and powerful reason to love God and live life for Him fully.