Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For [he’s giving us the reason now], you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way...
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope. 1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)
Mercy—there is no other explanation for the new birth. Birth is something that happens to you. You do not contribute to it.
This should leave you with a sense of awe and mystery and wonder. Why me, Lord? Other people see no beauty in Jesus. How come he opened my eyes to see? You will never be able to answer these questions, except with the words: his great mercy. God has been merciful to you. Let that bring you to worship.
When Peter talks about living hope, he does not mean that we ought to try and take a more optimistic view of life. Living hope is not a mind game in which you create your own reality by the power of positive thinking. We sometimes hear motivational speakers say, “Think positive thoughts.” That may be good psychology, but it has nothing to do with Christianity.
The living hope Peter is talking about is directly tied to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus rose from the dead. He broke the power of death, and through the new birth God has brought you to share in his triumph. Death has no hold over him. Death will have no hold over you—nor can Satan, sin, or hell.
No wonder Peter says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1:3).
Do you have the kind of living hope that Peter talks about here?