The Struggle is Real: Wk 1 – IDENTITY
The Struggle is Real: Week 1 – Identity
1 Peter 1:1–2:12
Hope; Suffering; Eternal life; Perceive; Truth; Adversity
Have you ever gotten the news you needed to hear after a deadline?
I wish I had found the book of 1 Peter sooner in my life. You see it would have been helpful to me early on.
You see I grew up in church, but quickly found it to be irrelevant to my life. I didn’t see how Jesus made a difference in my every day life. Sure he forgave my sin, thank God. But then what?
I had seen a glimpse of God, but I had no idea.
Well, then life started happening.
When parents divorced…I realized real quick that the God I knew, the god who forgave sin, couldn’t fix this. This was my first crisis of faith. I don’t remember questioning why God was letting this happen or anything specific like that, he just became irrelevant, So I left him behind.
I would continue to entertain my faith when it fit in my schedule, but it was always on my terms not on his. I took part in order to get things from him.
Then one day, as a married new father, I found myself facing another crisis of faith. I had no idea how to be a husband much less a father.
Where was God in this? Was he even here? Struggles like this are what got me thinking about this sermon series. Based on 1 Peter. The Struggle is Real
The struggle is real is the title, but it’s also sort of a joke on social media. Like one I’ve seen is a picture of a slice of white bread labeled…hotdog bun, hamburger bun, garlic bread, sandwich bread…growing up poor…the struggle is real.
ANother one was a picture of a pencil sharpener….that said, when the teachers electric sharpener breaks…the struggle is real.
When the wifi signal is too weak for youtube…the struggle is real.
These are a joke, but the struggles that bring about a crisis of our faith are very real.
The struggle is real when you battled cancer and won, only to hear the doctor tell you that it’s back.
The struggle is real when your spouse fails to be faithful to their vow to love honor and cherish in sickness and health, rich or poor; somewhere along the way, they made choices to dishonor…and you are left struggling
The struggle is real when you find the bill envelops stack higher than the income envelops and you have no idea how to fix it.
I’ve heard it said that we are either in the midst of difficulties or we are about to be. The reality is that life isn’t easy yet we are all tempted to pretend it is.
We felt this today when you had someone greet you today and say hey…how are you??? and without even thinking much you responded….good good. You didn’t even think about what was really going on, because frankly you want to just want a break from thinking about it and now you are wondering why you came if I’m going to make you think about it more.
Dover…Comic Con….People in costumes, having fun, but play in a fantasy.
We can’t live in a fantasy…we are called to live real lives and sometimes that means real struggle. But our struggle doesn’t define us.
God wants us to get our identity in Christ.
God promises to give us real hope.
That’s what I have come to love about the bible. It’s not a bunch of platitudes. It’s one story of the Living God as told by real people facing real struggles and trials.
David: writing the psalms:
Psalm 91:14–16 NIV84
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
The prophet Jeremiah
Jeremiah 32:27 NIV84
“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?
Or the apostle Paul in prison:
Philippians 4:6–7 NIV84
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
You see real people facing real danger, difficulties, and struggles. They looked to God to make sense of things…not themselves. They got their identity in the faithfulness of God in the midst of their own crisis of faith.
That’s where I pray we discover God calling us to look in our struggles from the Apostle Peter’s first letter to the church in Asia minor…modern day Turkey.
1 Peter 1:3–5 NIV84
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—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.
Christians were going through trials because they had begun living contrarily to culture.
Culture believed in idol worship. There were idols to worship everywhere yet here were Christians who had none of it…Christians were in effect atheists in this regard as their God was Spirit and refused to worship idols.
Christians worshipped in strange ways compared to that of the rest of culture. No more temple prostitutes. NO more drunken orgies in the temple.
Christians lived counter culturally…but there was a price to pay. They were culturally ostracized forcing them to watch out for one another.
1 Peter 1:6–7 NIV84
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
This…referred to the salvation they were living for.
But did you hear the reason for their struggles?
Their struggles had a purpose. These struggles do something in us…they prove our faith and lead to Jesus being glorified.
How does my suffering glorify Jesus?
When I trust him his promises through my struggles Jesus is glorified. He’s not when I whine or complain. He’s not when I pretend otherwise or when I try to escape the pain. No Jesus is glorified when I live through them faithfully.
Faithfulness in times of trial.
1 Peter 1:8–9 NIV84
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
The faithful person is receiving their salvation. You see it’s not just for the end of the world….it’s right now.
Our hope doesn’t come from inside ourselves….it comes from God. Our hope like our faith is a gift from God.
But like any other gift from God, it is given for action.
1 Peter 1:13–15 NIV84
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;
I love that Peter is so straight forward with the church.
Yes you are going to have difficulties…but don’t be defined by them. You are HOLY You are set apart. That’s who you are. That’s your identity.
You may have heard people say…”IM ONLY A SINNER, SAVED BY GRACE”….I’d say, a better way of putting it might be, I was a sinner, I was saved by grace, and now I am called to be holy.
He goes on to tell them to live as though they are just passing through because they are doing just that. Passing through. All this is temporary, what matters is the Lord.
So while we struggle, Peter tells us in Ch 2
In your struggle, seek God.
1 Peter 2:9–10 NIV84
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
You see seeking God in our struggle is the key to developing the intimate faith and relationship we seek with God.
We haven’t arrived, we are on teh way.
Struggles don’t define me.
The way passes through struggle, but God has promised that it’s destination is exactly where our faith directs us….The thing for which we hope, the realization of a life with Jesus is coming, just as God came through for the Israelites in the desert, so he is coming through for you and I.
You see, our identity is found in Christ as he
12 step program for people have struggles. You will learn that our identity isn’t our struggle.
We aren’t our sin or our sickness, or our brokenness. I’m not a sinner, or what’s been done to me. God wants me to know that through Jesus I can become a forgiven follower of Jesus who has struggles…my struggles don’t define me, Jesus does.
In your struggle, seek God.
But that identity is discovered through my struggles.
Our identity in Christ is revealed in the midst of difficulty.
Imagine if you saw yourself as God sees you?
This doesn’t end like a romantic comedy. Today we leave and for many of us, today and tomorrow struggles are real. Pain is real. Jesus wants to go through it with you. He wants to be your strength.