Stand Ready

 1 Peter 3:13-18

We have spent the last several weeks on the book of 1 Peter. First Peter is a letter that offered hope and encouragement to Christians who had been scattered throughout the Roman Empire seeking to avoid persecution. To those who were suffering as a result of their belief in Christ.

In chapter one we learned that no matter what we are going through we always have hope—as followers of Christ we have an inheritance that is kept for us in heaven. Heaven is our real home. Life here on earth is temporary. Therefore we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and eternity.  

We also learned that as followers of Christ, suffering and persecution is to be expected. So again, this letter primarily focuses on hope in the midst of persecution, for doing good, for being Godly, for sharing the gospel, etc. and Peter focuses on this throughout the entire letter.  

In chapter 2 we see how we’re to respond to suffering. And that is just as Jesus responded to the suffering He endured – He did not retaliate, He made no threats, He didn’t seek vengeance. Instead He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly – to His Father. 

And so should we. We should offer no retaliation, no threats, and never seek vengeance – which can be quite difficult. Don’t we often want to get back at others when they hurt us?? I don’t know about you, but I do!! If nothing else, we gossip about them. And actually I shouldn’t say it like that because yes, gossip is a serious sin, but we typically don’t consider it as such. 

Yet, retaliation is not an option as followers of Jesus. We need to trust that God in His Sovereignty, in His time and in His way will exact whatever retribution He deems necessary.

So let’s now venture into chapter 3, and I’d like to read verses 13-18 from The Message version. “If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.” 

I don’t know about you, but I think Jesus deserves a huge thank you! Now just as a quick aside, Had He not endured the cross, we would not have the hope of eternal life! Because our salvation is not something we could ever, ever earn. It was given to us freely, because as we heard in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Our salvation is a free gift from God! That’s why we have hope and that’s why we should always keep Christ at the center of our lives.

Now in this passage, there is one key verse I want to focus in on and its verse 15, which again states, but this time I’m going to read it in the New International Version, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.  

According to this verse – no matter what – we should always be focused on Jesus – we should adore Him, our hearts should revere Him. Well what does that even mean exactly? We should look on Him with awe, respect, and honor. We should obey, trust, exalt, worship and love Him for all He’s done for us, but particularly for the free gift of our salvation. 

Secondly, we are told to be ready to explain with utmost courtesy and respect, why we have the hope that we have. Why we are living differently from others. And yes, Christians should be living differently. We are to be set apart. 

In Matthew 5:13, we’re told, “We are the salt of the earth.” And just a few verses later in Matthew we hear, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” So we should not be going along with the flow of those around us who are not believers. 

And why not you might ask? Again, because Jesus calls us to be different. And remember He also asks us to share the gospel with others – to tell people about Him. To help them understand His offer of the free gift of salvation. Remember He desires all come to know Him. He wants none to be lost, as we hear in later in 2 Peter. And again we are to share about Jesus with love and respect. 

So stand ready to share the hope that you have. Stand ready to tell others about Jesus, which is sharing the gospel. Stand ready to share His love. Are you ready?? Has anyone ever asked you about the hope that you have? Or about why you live differently??

Let me ask you one final question that Max Lucado has asked. “When you arrive in heaven, I wonder if Christ might say, ‘Because of you, others are here today. Wanna meet ‘em?’”

Blessings,

Pastor Cathy

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