Monday, June 13, 2011

Week 6: 1 Peter 3:14-16

{"Do not fear what they fear, do not be afraid. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior may be ashamed of their slander." 1 Peter 3:14-16}

This week, we switch our focus from grace to hope ...while certainly the two are closely connected and we will find ourselves falling back on what we have learned of grace to help us understand hope. 

Grace, after all is the hope that we have been called to!

In context, Peter is talking about the occasions we 'suffer for good'. In our day and time, in the United States of America, we dont often have to suffer for being a Christian. At least, not to the same extent the the New Testament Christians did, often to the point of death.  There are other ways of suffering though, that we can relate to do some degree.  

Perhaps we are judged harshly by the world, and found lacking to meet their standards.  Perhaps we make choices that we feel are ones based on godly principles, and we are criticized for being "anti-social" or a deviant. Perhaps those who pit themselves against us are even other Christians who feel challenged by our choices. Perhaps it is your words of truth being met with accusations of intolerance and judgement, that causes you to feel you are 'suffering for good'.  It is possible, that you dont feel personally as if you are suffering in anyway for living a life of godliness, but you can relate to how Christianity in general has been attacked in our society over the years and especially in our present day.

Regardless, I love the challenge that Peter gives ..."Do not fear what they fear" vs 14. Fear is what drives people's responses to our good, and to those things that we do that make them feel challenged. It may be fear of judgement, fear of loss of control, fear of rejection, fear of all things unknown or of being misunderstood. We are encouraged to be motivated by something altogether different. 

Our motivation is in our hope.

Our hope lies in Christ alone. In the grace, forgiveness, peace and blessing that comes with knowing him. In contrast to the fear that drives those who may slander us, their slander is shameful! 

But, we should not forget what given the opportunity we must share it with respect and kindness. The power of gentleness and respect should not be underestimated in our day and time. Our culture lacks respect and certainly gentleness. Our responding to challenges with a degree of grace will do more for us, and for the message that we relate than anything else!

I am so disheartened when I see Christians responding to challenge with anger and harshness. By responding such, they are proving that their motivations are similar to those who do the challenging..fear of being misunderstood, fear of rejection, or of judgement.  

When we are able to give an answer for our truly given an answer for our hope..then you can only do it with respect and gentleness. 

Are you ready to give an answer for the hope that lies in your heart?  ..I pray for you as well as for me, that when the times comes I am indeed!

{Welcome, ifellowshippers ..your being here is an encouragement to me!}

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