We think this letter was addressed to Christians who were experiencing some kind of social costs because of their faith and hope in Jesus Christ. We aren’t sure what form they took, or how severe they were.
Are there any ways that description also applies to us? How? Are there ways it does not apply to us? Again, how? On balance, wherever we ourselves are, how does “trusting and hoping in Jesus Christ” affect how much we feel “a part of” the society around us, or how much we feel “set apart” from the society around us?
How important is this to us? In what way or ways is it important to us? Why is that, do we think? How does it affect the way we read our text of the day?
Is “trusting and hoping in Jesus Christ” different from “being Christian” or “identifying as Christian”? How? If we see those two things as different – is one more socially acceptable than the other? Which one? What’s going on there, do we think?
Our text starts out by encouraging the readers to prepare themselves mentally to set their hope on grace, associated with a coming revelation of Jesus Christ. Is “hoping” mental effort? How? What does that effort involve? How do we ourselves maintain hope when hope is difficult?
[More speculative] When is hope difficult? What makes hope difficult? What kind of effort is needed?
[More personal] When have we had difficulty hoping? What helped us? Or, do we still need help with that? What seems like it would help?
What do we think it means to be “conformed to desires?” Can we think of any examples of that? Are we, ourselves, ever inclined to be conformed to desires “had in ignorance”? What desires are those? What makes them “ignorant”?
Are Christians conformed to any desires? That is – would it be right for Christians to be conformed to some desires? Which ones, do we think? How are those different from the “ignorant” kind? How is this related to being holy (see v16)?
Are “desire” and “conduct” or “manner of life” related? How?
The root meaning of “holiness” is separation, distinction; but we ordinarily also think of “holiness” as meaning “pure” or “better.” How might “separate” things or people also be “pure” or “better”? How might they not be?
Does having a “different” way of life always result in comparisons and judgments, do we think? Or could it not? What are the conditions for that, do we think?
What seems desirable about maintaining a “different” way of life? Why? What seems undesirable about it? Why?
What kind of holiness do we think the text is calling the readers to in v 16, do we think? What makes us think that? How are we “among” those readers? How are we not? How does that affect the way we read this text today?
Do we think of silver and gold as “perishable” or prone to decay? What do we think Peter is trying to suggest by calling them that? What does not decay, in this set of images, for Peter? What does that tell us about the way the author understands the hope he is encouraging these Christians to have?
How is that related to “the good news that was announced to you”? (v25)
[More theological] In v17, the author describes “the Father” as an impartial judge; the appropriate attitude towards “the Father” is “reverent fear.” In v21, the author mentions God, and the appropriate attitude towards God is “trust … faith and hope.” How do we understand this? What is the author saying about God, do we think?
[More personal] How are these two attitudes related, do we think? [That is, do people or do Christians have them both? At the same time? Or do they alternate? Or does one come first and one afterwards? Or … ?] Is one or the other closer to our own experience? Which one? Why is that, do we think? How does this text affirm our experience, or challenge it? How do we feel about that? Do we think we need to do anything about that? What? Why?