Tom Chaney was a scoundrel of a man, wanted for murder in two states and on the run in the Indian territory. Mattie Ross (the surviving daughter of one of Chaney’s victims) was determined to avenge her father’s murder; but before Chaney could be prosecuted, he had to be found . . . something that would prove difficult to accomplish against the backdrop of eastern Oklahoma pre-statehood.
To assist her in her search for Chaney, Mattie recruits an aging U.S. Marshall named Rooster Cogburn. In the words of a local deputy, Rooster was “double tough — fear don’t enter his thinking.” Mattie knew he was the man for her job. Cogburn was a man of true grit . . . able to stand when others would fall, and such a man would be necessary to survive in hostile territory against a ruthless foe.
So goes the plot of the 1969 Academy Award winning movie “True Grit” starring John Wayne. The characters and plot of this story have allowed it to outlive its era — spawning a sequel as well as a remake (2010’s True Grit directed by the Cohen brothers). Both Mattie Ross and Rooster Cogburn are true protagonists, pressing forward where others do not. We are attracted to their true grit. As people who live in hostile environments of our own, we are inspired by their courage.
As intriguing as their story is, however, it ultimately is powerless to help us overcome the challenges we face in life. Our world is increasingly disrespectful of God’s laws and antagonistic towards God’s people. Disease, death, and discouragement are three outlaws who track us down on an all too frequent basis. Where can we find the grit to stand in this hostile territory?
Our dilemma is not new. From the very beginning, Jesus was preparing His followers for how to stand in a hostile land. Jesus actually provides the way for people to not just survive but thrive, not just endure but rejoice, not be defeated but have hope. His grace gives us the grit we need.
The Apostle Peter wrote a letter in 64 CE to a collection of Christians scattered across modern day Turkey to instruct them on how to stand in hostile territory. Peter informs them (and us, as God preserved this letter for us to read today) of the “true grace of God” that we would “stand firm in it” (1 Peter 5:12). This “True Grace” that gives the grit to stand in hostile territory is the subject of the book of 1 Peter.
Over the next 10 weeks, we will be walking through this short letter together seeing how the true grace of God provides hope and harmony (1:1-2:10), love and service (2:11-4:11), and leadership and life (4:12-5:11). Join us through the sermon series at Wildwood Community Church (June 7 – August 9) as we explore these themes and see God’s truth for us. Also, check back to this blog daily beginning June 1 (or subscribe in the side column) to receive personal and small group Bible Study prompts to help guide us toward a better understanding and application of these truths. Finally, join me in praying that we would all embrace the “True Grace” of God that we would stand firm in it.
If your hope has been murdered, or your joy is on the run, allow Jesus to heal your soul. He is the Son of Man with True Grace for our every need.