After the Wedding

by Catherine McNiel on November 26, 2021

I attended a close friend’s wedding recently, and it was truly a magical time. Everything from the weather to the decorations to the story of how these two people met and fell in love reminded me of a fairy tale. After they said “I do” they went off to their honeymoon— and the rest of us went back to the real world.

In movies, love stories often meander through hopes and disappointments, suffering and joy, all leading up to the happy ending of wedding bells and happily ever after. But as anyone who is married—or has met someone who is married—knows, the wedding isn’t the end, but the beginning. Yes, emotions and excitement are high on this happy day, but there’s years of work and sacrifice ahead as two people learn to live together in a new way.

I think something similar is happening here in 1 Peter. I shared with you my favorite passage on Wednesday, in which Peter is ecstatic with praise, rejoicing even during trials and pain out of sheer love of Jesus and confidence in the salvation keep safe for us.

But the real life of his readers (and us) takes place in the every-day work of living in this new family. Yes, love and joy are real. But what does the Christian life look like? It’s not merely rewatching the wedding video over and over again. There’s a lot of work to do, and it isn’t always going to be easy.

Peter starts off chapter 2 with “therefore.” Now that we live in this love, this joyful salvation, what do we do? Peter has a list and it takes up most of his letter:

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. (1 Peter 2:1)

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:11-12)

…all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing (1 Peter 3:8b-9a)

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect… (I Peter 3:14-15)

There’s more. We are to submit to any governing authority, for the Lord’s sake, using our freedom not to cover up our own selfish sin but to live as God’s slaves (2:13-16). We are to show respect to everyone and love the entire family of believers. Husbands and wives are to care for each other intentionally and carefully. We’re even supposed to treat our persecutors well.

As Christians, we often just replay the wedding video over and over. We’re saved by God’s grace! God loves us! Yes, it’s all true. But now, the work of living in this new family begins. We’re going to be asked to do more than we think we have the strength for, and we’ll fail again and again. But we can forgive and ask for forgiveness. We can get up and try again. After all:

Though [we] have not seen him, [we] love him; and even though [we] do not see him now, [we] believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for [we] are receiving the end result of [our] faith, the salvation of [our] souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9)

Questions for reflection and discussion: How does a wedding differ from a marriage? Do you think of becoming a Christian mostly as the day you joined God’s family, or also the day-to-day challenges and joys of living and working in God’s family? Which of these commands from Peter should you take to heart?

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