The Biggest Threat to Christianity in 2023
This past year, I spent a lot of time studying the book of First Peter. I can’t tell you how much I love this epistle! Of course, we should love and study the entire Bible because “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16, ESV). But there was something particularly relevant and timely about this portion of Scripture for this generation of Christians.
In his first letter, Peter wrote to Gentiles living in regions that we now call Turkey. These believers were suffering. There’s no evidence that they were suffering government-decreed persecution, but they were in a time and place where their lifestyle of faith in Christ was misunderstood. They were experiencing religious discrimination. They were being mocked and verbally abused. Understandably, they felt threatened and uncertain about their future and safety.
Does that sound familiar? The social and cultural environment we’re living in today largely disrespects, or at least misunderstands, the Christian faith. It’s not a stretch to say that Christianity feels under threat as we enter 2023. So, it makes sense that Peter would address this concern of his readers and answer the question, “What is the most dangerous thing for a Christian living in this day and age?”
You would think that Peter’s answer would be related to the increasing threats and how to combat those. But instead, his epistle takes a different turn. The biggest threat to Christians back in Peter’s day (and the one we’re living through today) is something that I would title identity amnesia.
Identity amnesia is when you forget who you are in Christ and what you have been given in Christ. To fight against this, Peter reminds the reader of ten encouraging identity statements: elect exiles, living stones, holy priesthood, spiritual house, chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation, people for God’s possession, sojourners, and in Christ.
Peter understood that if you’re going to follow Christ faithfully during difficult times, whether in 2023 or back in the days of the Dispersion, we need to be living out of our identity in Christ.
What does that practically mean, to live out of our identity in Christ? Well, it’s impossible to unpack all of this in an email, so I recorded 52 five-minute videos on the book of First Peter. So, if you were looking for a book of the Bible to study as you kick off 2023, consider The Gospel: One Letter At A Time (links below). I was surprised and encouraged by the treasures embedded in this little letter!
Or, maybe you want to revisit the Proverbs. I’m persuaded that Proverbs is one of the most referenced portions of the Word of God, yet perhaps one of the least understood. So I found 41 gospel principles that run through this book of wisdom, which you can watch in The Gospel: One Proverb At A Time.
Lastly, if you want to discover Jesus and his Good News in every book of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, and even in the “obscure” or lesser-read sections like Leviticus, check out my 66 videos that are part of The Gospel: One Book At A Time.
When you allow the rain of God’s Word to water your soul, you don’t become a better rendition of what you once were. No, by grace, you become something radically new and organically different!
Inside the pages of Scripture, you will unlock the meaning of life, discover who you are designed to be, receive a mission statement for your existence, and literally experience a “new year, new you” (by the power of the Holy Spirit). That sounds like the most meaningful New Year’s resolution you could ever make!
Paul David Tripp
1. What have been some obstacles in the past to reading your Bible consistently?
2. What does your current schedule reveal about your priorities? Are there changes you can make to your schedule that will prioritize Scripture reading?
3. How has your faith been under attack recently? What has your reaction been to that opposition? Is it drawing you closer to Christ and deepening your faith?
4. If you are not experiencing much opposition to your Christian faith, could it be because you are too passive? How can you be more bold and active for the sake of the gospel?
5. Who are you, and what have you been given, in Christ? Be specific. What does it look like every day for your identity to be “in Christ”?