"...who, according to his great mercy..." 1 Pet 1:3
Mercy is defined as not getting something one deserves. Paul writes of guilt on the behalf of all persons when it comes to sin (Romans 3:23). He also points out the result of sin is death (6:23).
When Peter begins his letter to those who have been scattered due to oppression or persecution, he takes the time to mention God's great mercy. This phrase is often glanced over quickly or forgotten about before the reader looks to other phrases later in the text.
When faced with judgment or guilt, man's tendency is to look at the opportunity for pardon. In other words, we focus on a "new birth" to which Peter speaks. We'd rather reflect on the hope in Christ rather than the truth of sin. However, isn't it true that to appreciate a new birth or hope found in Christ, one must also spend time considering his own crimes against God prior to reflecting on God's great mercy? Often times, we focus on the pardon God provides so we won't have to deal with the reality of our own guilt. Might this attitude lead to what Bonhoeffer calls "Cheap Grace"?