The original recipients of the Letter of First Peter inhabited a radically different social context from our own. We do not live under Roman imperial rule. Slave labor is not the driving force of our economy. Women are not under patriarchal domination in our culture as they once were. Society has changed, but what is beyond dispute is that Western culture remains antithetical to God's will and hostile to the Jesus way. The imperial Caesar has been replaced by the imperial self. The Pax Romana has been replaced by the American Dream. Western capitalism still trades in the bodies and souls of human beings. Culture obsesses over sexual freedom and material indulgence. Idolatry is pervasive. Autonomous individualism is the ideal.
First Peter is about the inevitable clash with culture that ensues because of the good news of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter's bottom-up profile of costly discipleship is far more radical than we may realize. Hostility against the church is the believer's opportunity under pressure to reveal the goodness of God. Suffering and submission are essential for Peter's Christ for culture strategy. Sacrifice is the leverage of the gospel. Cross-bearing humility is the strategy for relating to culture and Christlike humility is essential for living in the household of God.