It can be easy for Christians in the United States to overlook the strangeness of our faith. After all, we are a nation “under God” and Christianity is embedded into our culture. In the 20th Century, people spoke about the “moral majority,” believing that most people in the country would agree with the (mostly evangelical) Christian perspective on the world.
Now, though, many Christian leaders have begun to emphasize the strangeness of our faith. Many have challenged the validity of “moral majority” claims and spoken about the importance of recognizing and even appreciating the aspects of Christian faith that come off strange. “A Christianity that is without friction in the culture is a Christianity that dies,” writes evangelical leader, Russell Moore.
This friction, though not desired, ought to be expected for Christians. Our faith in a perfect, loving God who saves a broken humanity undoubtedly makes us stick out at times, but how do we operate in this friction? How do we live with the hope and joy found in Christ’s resurrection when the world rejects us for it?
A STRANGE FAITH IN SUFFERING
Often, this rejection finds its footing upon the question of suffering. If God is good, why is their evil? Many apologists have taken on this question and have provided in-depth answers, but in the end, the strongest defense we have is our faith that God is indeed good. We trust His goodness even in the face of suffering, or at least we try our best. To those on the outside, this faith may look ridiculous. How can one live like this in the midst of such suffering?
This is why Resurrection Life in a World of Suffering is such an important work. D.A. Carson and Kathleen Nielson collected six conference lectures from men and women alike that teach through 1 Peter. The collection of writings from various voices examines the similarities between contemporary Western culture and the Asia Minor culture to whom Peter wrote, focusing in on what it means to live as “exiles” from our home in the Kingdom of God. While Western Christians do not suffer in the same ways as those in the first century, suffering undoubtedly happens to all, and we experience unique challenges in the West today.
UNITY IN PAST AND PRESENT
In many ways, the book uses this suffering as a way to unite believers together. As Kathleen Nielson writes in the first chapter, “Not one of us is free while some of us are suffering... the whole body of Christ is suffering for this little while, until he returns”(50). The writers even go a step beyond uniting merely the contemporary church. They unite the body of Christ to their brothers and sisters from the past, reminding readers that our faith unites us across borders, languages, and even time.
One of the most remarkable features is how clearly this unity with the past comes out in 1 Peter as well. In the introduction, Juan Sanchez points out Peter’s expository handling of the Hebrew Old Testament, showing that this faith has roots that go beyond even the first century Church. As readers interact with 1 Peter today they participate in a global and historical truth that finds its roots in an even more ancient people. Resurrection Life in a World of Suffering reminds Christians that we are not alone in suffering, that God has brought His people out of suffering before, and He continues to do so now.
Readers will enjoy Resurrection Life in a World of Suffering for varying reasons. The Christian studying the Bible at home will gain insight and background to the 1 Peter narrative. In addition to the thoughtful commentary, each chapter offers practical application points and reflection questions that cause readers to think about how the scriptures affect their own lives. If you are someone who preaches or teaches the Bible in any way, the concluding chapter has Pastor, Professor, and Theologian John Piper explain ways to teach 1 Peter to a class or congregation.
While readers may approach the book for differing reasons, all who engage with this text will gain an understanding of how to live out their faith. In such a time and place as this, full of many kinds of suffering, books like this one point us back to the greater hope we have as Christians: that through the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can find life in the midst of suffering.