The following post is from my notes when I spoke at an event on board, so if somethings don’t make sense…I promise it sounded better when I said it. Maybe I can upload the audio file…once I have better internet.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
1 Peter 1:1-2
Peter, speaking to the early church, identifies them as strangers, exiles throughout the world, echoing the words Jesus spoke years ago when praying to the Father. He said “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.” We know that Jesus is not from the world, he came down from heaven, but what a blessing this must be for the believers then who received Peter’s letter, for us who live in these troubled times to know that this is not our home, that we are exiles, strangers, foreigners. We are living in a land that is not ours, because like Jesus, our true home is in heaven. On earth we have divided the nations, by race, by language, by religion, by politics but in the bible the only division we see is the unbelievers from the believers at the final judgment. God says to the sheep on his right “Come” but to those on his left he says “depart from me, I never knew you.” Why have we allowed not only the world, but our churches to become divided? Where was it that we decided our preferences on how to worship, or when to baptize or what to eat and drink overwhelmed our desire to follow Jesus’ petition, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” This is what Jesus prayer before he died, that we may all be one. Whether rich or poor, living in the east, west, north or south. Whether we’ve been Christians our whole life, or found Jesus later on, we are to be one. And I want to say, as someone from a ‘Christian’ country, that each and every one of you is as much a brother or sister to me as my own family, as much as any person aboard this ship. From the closet believers in China, to the underground churches in North Korea, the Mega Churches in America. We are one.
One of the big questions we get asked on the ship is how do people from so many different countries live together. We have cultures that are totally opposite of each other. I don’t know if you have ever thought about this, but different cultures can react very differently to situations. For instance, people from the UK, Britain love queues, love forming an orderly line to wait for things. However, this ship spent most of the last two years in Asia, where people just kind of mob around in a crowd and push forward until they are at the front. But, an Asian person confronted with a problem, will usually avoid talking to the person they have the problem with. So if you had a roommate who snored, an Asian person is more likely to just buy earplugs and not say anything. A German or a Dutch person on the other hand might wake them up and say hey, stop that. Right to their face. On the ship, our biggest people groups or British, Germans and Asians, so how do we get them all to work and live and fellowship together? The first answer is Jesus, and the only answer is Jesus. Without his love and grace in our lives the ship ministry would not see any fruit, not just because we couldn’t get the ship to go, but because we would not be living examples of Christ. Peter also says, in chapter 4 verse 8 of his first letter “Above all, love each other deeply for love covers a multitude of sins.” People tell us all the time there is something ‘different’ about the ship. And that difference is that we love them. How do we show the world that we are different? We love each other. Peter says deeply love each other. If Christians can’t love each other, how can we love Buddhists, or Muslims, or Atheists, or Hindus or anyone? Peter ends chapter 4 on an encouraging note, saying ‘Dear friends,’ and I say to you as well, ‘Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trials you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you.’ Many times we wonder, God I am following you now, why must I still suffer. Instead Peter says “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” When I first joined the ship two years ago, I didn’t feel like I belonged to it, I felt like a stranger, like I didn’t belong, or that no one really cared I was part of the ministry. But on my second Church tea, visiting a local church in Port Klang, Malaysia, the Pastor Introduced us and said to his congregation “let us now welcome the team from Logos Hope. And as we stood and walked to the front of the church I felt something I had not felt before, a sense of belonging, that I was part of this. That I was a member of the ship that brings Jesus to people, that I was part of what God was doing in the countries we visited. And it filled me with so much joy. And friends, if God fills me with joy when I see my part in a small part of his plan, how much joy will overflow when we see, at the end, our part in it. When we see how our sufferings healed others, how our hardships moved mountains, how our sickness brought health, how our slavery made people free, and how our testimonies brought people to Christ. There is no greater privilege in my eyes, than being able to suffer for God. In Peter’s words “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed.” This is a promise from God. “If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear the name…so then those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” Never let hardships stop you from doing the right thing. “These trails have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold – may prove genuine, and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Because that’s what our lives are about, bringing praise, glory and honour to Jesus, regardless of the hardships.
Near the end of this letter Peter writes ‘Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” Friends, do you worry? Are you afraid of what tomorrow may bring? For those living with families or in communities that do not know about or accept their faith this can be a daily issue. But I want you to seek comfort in knowing that Christ cares for you. Yes this ship does as well, and while we can fellowship with you, and pray for you, and encourage you, we are not all powerful, we are not all knowing, and we are not all loving. But we do take comfort in the Lord our God. And as brothers and sisters in Christ we encourage you to also look to our God, knowing that in the end, we will have been part of something bigger, than the desires of man, something better than the quarrels of this world, we will be part of the royal priesthood, the disciples that faithfully followed him. ‘Though you have not seen Him, you love him‘ something the world cannot comprehend. And you are filled with inexpressible joy for you are receiving the goal of your faith. Do you know what Peter says it is, the goal of our faith? The salvation of your souls. So not only do we see our part in God’s plan, not only do we give him praise, glory and honour, but we have received salvation, and get to spend eternity with him. Brothers and sister, if that does not bring joy to your heart, I do not know what will. On behalf of the Logos Hope, my Church, all the way back in Dryden, Ontario, Canada that serves the same God you serve, that loves the same saviour you love, I say Hallelujah, for we shall all meet again in heaven, because we are all in this together. Brothers and sisters in Christ; We. Are. One.