1 Peter 2
It’s not uncommon to stumble upon a story where Christianity and Christians are being attacked. Equally common is to see the guns fully firing back from Christians in response. No doubt, the natural instinct is to bristle and become defensive. We want to fight back, and perhaps even launch a counter attack. We cry out, “unfair” and too easily assume the victim role.
But as Jesus followers is this the right response? As Jesus followers are we supposed to go with the natural instinct?
Time and again the Bible tells us to expect the world to fight against us and to even expect persecution. None of this treatment or response by non-Christians should surprise us. The Bible also shows us how to respond.
What if we did things differently, more like Jesus? Imagine the impact if our collective and consistent response to persecution is to love even more. To serve even more. To count others more important than ourselves. To give sacrificially. To act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. To share the grace, love, forgiveness, and freedom offered by Jesus. What if this is what we did instead of firing back in angry defense on social media?
Jesus not only told us to turn the other cheek, but He also modeled it. He was regularly attacked, lied about, marginalized, and misunderstood. However, instead of fighting back, He kept living the life on earth He was called to, completely focused on His purpose and His life as the response. Peter reminds us of Jesus, “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”
Likewise, Peter tells the dispersed and persecuted Christians to, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” Peter expects those on the outside will speak harshly against Christians. But the response according to Peter, and modeled by Jesus, should be to conduct ourselves honorably. SO THAT, they will see our good deeds and glorify God.
Our ultimate aim is to point people to Jesus. Our right jabs and contempt do nothing to bring people closer to their Savior. We most effectively do this by living honorable lives...lives that make the outside world pause and want to learn more. And I know...it is so hard. It is hard to take the often unfair and unjust criticism and condemnation. But honestly, wanting to fight back is rooted more in pride than love.
Peter says this is the will of God, that “by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.” Change comes about through love and honorable living; through our actions and behavior toward others. In Christ we are FREE. However, just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. Peter reminds us we should not use this freedom for evil, but rather “living as servants of God.”
1 Peter 1
“To those who are elect exiles of the Dispsersion…” Peter begins his letter. He is writing to people who have been displaced. People who are no longer in the comfort of home, their community, the familiar. Temporary residents in a foreign land. It is a letter of encouragement…to keep going even while it is hard. To hang in there, that better days are ahead.
As Christians we too are displaced from our true home. We are temporarily separated from the way things should be. Do you ever look around and just feel hopeless? Do you see the effects of sin, the pain and suffering, the devil’s effective manipulations and lies, the evil and cultural hostility, and just want to give up? Do you wonder if it is all worth it?
If so, this letter is for you too. Peter’s words to hang in there is for us. We have a living hope. We have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading. It is kept in heaven for us, currently being guarded, ready to be revealed at just the right time. Peter tells us we have something to rejoice about, though now for a little while we may be grieved by various trials.
The chaos around us, the news we hear, the hatred and division we see can be debilitating. But we have something greater to look to instead. Peter says we should prepare our minds for action, and being sober-minded, setting our hope FULLY on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
If you are feeling despair at the circumstances around you, place your hope on Jesus. Fix your eyes on the inheritance being guarded for you. Hang in there. Better days are coming.
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