My friend Judie is a twin. All of her life, she will be a twin. That’s part of who she is. And I will never quite understand what that is like for her, even though I try to imagine myself as a twin—how would that shape and color my thinking, especially if I were an identical twin? What would it be to look at someone who others say is a mirror image of me? How would that affect my thinking and my sense of who I am?
I cannot put myself into the framework of a twin, but I do know what it is to be the eldest child. And, because I was the first in line in our family, I have a connection to every other first-born I meet. We share certain perspectives that second children do not, nor third, nor fourth … I have no idea what it feels like to be the youngest, the last. (Sorry, Sister dear, but remember … eventually you’ll be first and I’ll be last. I’m pretty sure you have that promise in Scripture.)
Our community includes the largest Amish settlement in the country. When a buggy clip-clops down the street, we locals take little notice, but tourists turn and stare or they’ll occasionally stop their cars along the highway to lie in wait with cameras. I wonder what it is like to have other people gawk and view you as an attraction because you dress and drive differently?
So many characteristics of who we are set us apart from others around us. Still, there are things that draw my twin friend and I together, creating a bond of friendship. And with my Amish neighbors I often find common ground.
The children of God live in many dissimilar cultures, have differing political views, are of varying race, gender, age, social and financial status, yet we share a distinction as people of God, all of us taking that identity from the same foundations.
And so, who are we?
Every now and then the Spirit gives us a clear glimpse of who we are and where we are.
These glimpses are gifts, I think — small sips and tastes of the full, grand knowledge of who God created us to be, what we are now, and what we can look forward to becoming. The Spirit shows us God’s thoughts and secrets, and we’re given a moment when we can see from His perspective. With that clearer vision, we discern more of the path on which we are traveling back to Him and we savor hints of the life that awaits us when we finally do reach home.
Toward the end of his life, Peter wrote a letter that gives us just such glimpses. And when we read it attentively and repeatedly, we get not just a small taste but a heavy, heavenly dose of confirmation: Here is a picture of who we are. Here is what God says about our journey. Here is what unites us all as God’s eternally loved people.
At some point, we all identify with the disciple Peter. Peter’s story touches us because we are so much like him. We sail through the highs and trudge through the lows of faith. Our hope and longing for the Kingdom struggle to break through the crusty weight of old nature and earthly thinking. Peter knew both the thrills and the discouragements of that struggle, and when he composed his letter to God’s chosen people, he was not writing only to believers who lived in his day; he was also writing to all who choose to follow Christ at any time in man’s history. Peter knows what it is to be a follower of Christ living in a foreign land, but determined to return home one day.
Reading the first of Peter’s letters reminds us who we are in God’s eyes. We hear the plans our Creator has for us. We begin to grasp the part we play in His plans for the world. And although the height and depth and width and breadth of it all is far beyond our comprehension, taking in what Peter has to tell us will surely change what we think of ourselves and how we meet every event and person in each moment of our day.
The first letter from Peter holds effective antidotes for those days when we want to give up, when we wonder if our life has counted for anything, or when we are desperate to know that God does indeed have a plan and is carrying it out.
So here’s my invitation:
Read 1 Peter—the entire book—every day for the next eight days. It will take only fifteen to twenty minutes. Read it aloud, if possible. Have someone else read it to you if the opportunity arises (for example, while you’re driving). Or listen to the audio one day.
Imagine that you are part of a group of Christians, listening attentively to what this man who lived with Jesus wrote directly to you—because you are and he was.
Decide that you will make the time to accept this invitation. You can do it! Dedicate yourself to it, for just a little more than a week. Only nine days—but you will catch sight of God’s vision for your life. Each day, read Peter first, then come here and join me in thinking about who we are, our mission, and what’s ahead.
My hope for all of us is this: that we absorb some of the marvel of who we are and the plans God has for us.
“It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen” (1 Peter 1:12 NLT).
Thanks to Keith Ferrin for presenting Scripture-reading ideas that prompted this series.
This is the first in a 9-day study of 1 Peter. The series begins here.