Scripture: 1 Peter 3:13-17
13Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
Peter continues to address the challenge of being a Christian under pressure, in a hostile environment. His theme is suffering even while doing good.
Peter tells the disciples who are under pressure to
–not fear their agitators.
–to honour Christ the Lord as holy in their hearts
–to be prepared to make a defence for their good behaviour by sharing the “reason for the hope that is in you.”
–to do so with gentleness and respect, keeping a good conscience.
It is better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
We can see the difference. You are what you do. Not just what you think and feel. Donald Miller observes that the only story people know about you is what you do, not what you think. Peter envisions a community of disciples of Jesus who stand out because of their good behaviour. Their goodness, what can be seen in their relationships with people, cuts against the grain of their society. In fact the general crowd may call the disciples’ good “evil.”
When confronted for the behaviours that people can see, the disciple of Jesus is to be prepared to give reasons for the hope they have. This is a profound observation. Goodness, quantifiable “holiness” flows out of the heart and mind that has been captivated by Jesus. It flows from the daily confession, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Hope has reasons. Why else would we bother to go against the tide of public opinion and view of what is normal? People don’t know what’s in your heart and mind until you tell them. But they may not care about what you know until they care about what you have been doing… or not doing.
Do followers of Jesus really rush in where angels fear to tread?
Hope has its reasons? Our hope is wrapped up in the Gospel of Jesus wherein we have seen the grace and truth of the Father’s love for us. Jesus the Son of God, according to the Scriptures, born of Mary, ushers in the Kingdom of God, killed on the cross for the forgiveness of sin, buried in the tomb, raised on the third day to new life, ascended to the Father’s right hand, and now giving the Holy Spirit to empower His church, shall return someday in fullness of glory to judge the living and the dead and usher in a new heaven and new earth.
Hope has its reasons.
Heavenly Father can you see the difference? Infuse our hearts with the hope of the Gospel so that we have reason for acting and living differently according to the holiness of your Son Jesus Christ. AMEN.