1 Peter For You (The Good Book Company 2016, $22.99), Juan R. Sanchez

As any regular listener to “The Briefing” or anyone paying attention to the current political climate can attest, Christians live in a world growing more hostile by the day to their distinctive message. Keystones of Christian theology like the sanctity of marriage are ridiculed publicly, and patterns of spiritual faithfulness — like corporate and personal prayer in response to tragedy — are widely considered lazy and useless compared to the “real” work of stirring up political agendas.

Despite this, the cultural opposition has not yet progressed to the sort of persecution other Christians throughout the world experience. American believers are being made fun of, not imprisoned or beheaded.

The church of Asia Minor was similar, writes Southern Seminary professor and Texas pastor Juan Sanchez in his new book 1 Peter for You. State-sponsored persecution had not yet reached the Christians of Asia Minor, but they were getting publicly reviled and lived in a culture hostile to the Christian message. Peter wrote to these Christians, reminding them that they should not “be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes” (1 Pet 4:12) and encouraging them to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who suffered unjustly but did not threaten in return (1 Pet 2:21-23).

“In this context of ongoing discrimination and ridicule for their faith, Peter writes that Christians scattered throughout Asia Minor to remind them that all Christians have been called to suffer just as Christ has suffered,” writes Sanchez, assistant professor of Christian theology. “By sharing these truths with his first readers, Peter hoped that they would be able to face with great joy the ridicule and shame this world brought upon them, standing firm in the knowledge that their vindication was coming at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Sanchez walks section-by-section through the book of 1 Peter, commenting on the meaning of every passage and applying it to the reader. Each chapter of the book analyzes the passage thematically and concludes with a series of reflection questions. The book seeks to explain each section of 1 Peter, but avoids the technical jargon and footnotes better reserved for a more academic commentary. The prose is simple, easy to grasp, and applicational, helping the reader think through the meaning of the text thoroughly and faithfully.

“1 Peter is a letter we desperately need to read, and wrestle with, and believe today,” Sanchez writes. “In these hardening times, some of us will be tempted to compromise what we believe in order to ‘fit in’ or to avoid suffering, while others of us will be tempted to bemoan all that is wrong with our world and long nostalgically for a better time. … Peter will equip us to stand firm against both temptations as we look forward to a better future.”

When Christians are demoralized about the present or unbiblically nostalgic for the past, 1 Peter provides the basis for suffering well and longing for a future hope that all believers will enjoy. The book can be used as a guide to the book of 1 Peter, by teachers in a group Bible study, or as a daily devotional for pastors preparing to preach on 1 Peter. (The Good Book Company 2016, $22.99)