April 13, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!
You’re probably reading this devotion on Easter Monday. I’m writing it a few days earlier. As I do, I’m imagining what Easter will be like this year. It will be like none other in my life, that’s for sure! I expect you can relate. For the first time in my life I will not go to church physically on Easter Sunday. Yes, I imagine that my church family will worship remotely. We will offer each other the traditional Easter greeting, “Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!” But we will do so virtually, without actually being together. Then, after church, my extended family will gather for a while, but with lots of space between us. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if our Easter afternoon fellowship is completely online; but even if a few of us actually come together, we’ll be socially distanced in a way utterly unlike any other Easter gathering.
The COVID-19 crisis certainly will make a difference in our Easter celebrations, won’t it? But, I wonder, will the difference also go in the other direction as well? To put it simply, I wonder if Easter will make a difference in how we think about, feel about, and experience life during a pandemic. Should it?
We can find answers to this question in chapter 1 of the first letter of Peter in the New Testament. After the opening blessing, Peter writes, “By his great mercy [God] has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Notice how, in this verse, the resurrection makes a difference in our lives. It gives us “new birth into a living hope,” not empty hope or dead hope, but hope that is alive in us. Hope, in biblical perspective, is not a positive attitude or wishful thinking. Rather, it’s solid confidence in the future—God’s future.
So for example, I hope that by staying at home, practicing social distancing and energetic hand-washing, I will not get the novel coronavirus. I have this hope. But this isn’t what biblical hope is all about. Biblical hope is the solid assurance that, no matter what happens to me in this life, my future is in God’s hands and he will raise me to new life. Why can have I such confident hope? Because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, demonstrating that death has been defeated through the cross and resurrection.
Is this kind of hope relevant to people who are in the midst of a pandemic? I think so. Those to whom Peter was writing were not in a situation exactly like ours, but they were going through difficulties of their own. They had, in Peter’s words, “to suffer various trials” as they were being “tested by fire” (1 Peter 1:6-7). We don’t know exactly what the recipients of 1 Peter were experiencing, but we do know that it was upsetting and painful.
Yet, in their suffering they had hope: confident hope, abiding hope, living hope. Why? Because they were Easter people. They were people of the resurrection, and that made all the difference in the world.
Something to Think About:
In what ways did you experience God’s presence and grace in your unusual celebrations of Easter yesterday?
What’s the difference between a “living hope” based on the resurrection and the “wishful thinking” kind of hope that is often commended to us?
What does it mean for us to be people of hope in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis?
Something to Do:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
By your great mercy, Lord, you have given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. You have also given us new birth into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us.
What great news! How we thank you for raising Jesus from the dead and for the living hope that gives us. Lord, we need this living hope today. Our world needs this living hope. Help me to live with this hope at the center of my life today, for your glory. Amen.
You can access all of our Life for Leaders devotions here.
Explore today’s passage in more depth at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Resident Aliens and a Royal Priesthood (1 Peter 1:1-2:12)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is the Executive Director of Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he is the principal writer of Life for Leaders and the program lead of the Third Third Initiative. Previously, Mark was the senior pastor of a church in Southern California and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. Mark has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,000 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark has taught at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
Click here to view Mark’s profile.