1 Peter 3:14-16 —
14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but 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, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
I have enjoyed our journey through 1 Peter looking at the hope that was offered to those original exiles and to us. As we get to our last passage today, I want to take a minute and remind us of the hope that we have looked at so far.
We have seen that the hope we have in Christ is different because it is “living” (1 Peter 1:3). We do not rely on a feeling or an experience because the object of our worship is the resurrected King Jesus; our hope is in Him. We have also seen how we need to prepare our minds for action by “set[ting our] hope fully on the grace” of Jesus (1 Peter 1:13); everything is under subjection to Jesus, including our thoughts. We were reminded that our “faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:21) because of what He has done and is doing in our lives. Last week, we looked at how our hope in God adorns us (1 Peter 3:5) as we submit to God in our daily lives. How we hope determines how we live. And today, we are going to get a practical look at how our hope intersects and mingles with our daily lives.
One of the toughest aspects about being an exile is being different. Think about it. If you are an exile, you are from somewhere else – your very culture and values are foreign to where you are. That is the case for people who are living in exile around the world today.
When refugees flee from wicked dictators and terrorist regimes, they find themselves far away from home in lands that are not hospitable to them. Even in the US – a place known as a melting pot – refugees find it difficult because there are aspects of our culture that are foreign to them. And there are aspects of the refugee’s culture that are foreign to us. Think about the way that politicians, newscasters, and maybe even yourself or those around you have talked about the difficulties, or even dangers, of refugees coming into the country. People were/are afraid that these refugees would be more loyal to their homeland and be used to infiltrate our culture with terrorist ideals or – even worse – be a means by which the terrorists could gain access to us.
But God’s Word keeps reminding us: if we are born again, we are exiles. This world is not our home. The culture of a Christ-follower does not match up with the culture of the world. The values of a Christ-follower do not match up with the values of the world. Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:20 that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior”. We are to be more loyal to our heavenly homeland than to our place of earthly exile. And the ideals of our Savior and Lord are supposed to influence our place where He has planted us.
This causes difficulties both in us and around us. We struggle with our flesh because we desire to and do sin. We struggle with the world around us because we want to identify and fit into it. But God has called us to be different, and different is difficult.
Peter tells us that – if we live a Christ-like life – we will be reviled. This echoes Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 3:12: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…”. Those who follow Christ will be noticeably different than the world around them. Just like in grade school, noticeable differences are noticed – and ridiculed. But Peter shows us a better response than “sticks and stones will break my bones”; he reminds us of our great Savior and the hope that He alone brings!
First, he tells them/us to “have no fear of them”. There is nothing that anyone or anything can do to us to remove our hope. There is nothing that can be done to remove our salvation from us. The most anyone could do is to kill us, and their greatest threat (death) is the believer’s greatest reward (eternity with Christ). Just as we looked at a few weeks ago, if we reverently fear the Lord, there is no reason to fear anyone on this earth.
Second, he tells them/us not to “be troubled”. This echoes words that Peter heard Jesus say on their last night together:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid”John 14:27
This was a reminder to Jesus’ closest followers that things were about to get hard – harder than they could have imagined. It was also a reminder that He was – and is – Emmanuel, God with us! We need to set our hope on Him!
Rather than fearing or being troubled, we are to honor Christ the Lord as holy. We need to remember that He is unlike anything in this world. Holy at its most simple means set apart. God is set apart from everything in this world and above all that seeks to do us harm. We need to remember that. Having our focus set correctly on Christ reminds us that our “help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2). And, when we set our view of Him correctly, it impacts the way we live.
What Peter tells them/us next is a game changer. As I stated earlier, today’s passage gives us a practical application for our hope. Peter gives this advice: “always [be] prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for are reason for the hope that is in you”. Wow! The hope you have in Christ should be so evident in your life that people want to know about it!
This is very convicting to me because, I know for a fact, that my hope has been less evident in my life this week than most others. I planned out the order of the passages in these devotions back in early July, and I had no idea what would be going on in my life in late August. But that is the beauty of the nature of our hope: it stays the same despite our circumstances!
So, here is the application I am preaching to myself today, and I hope it is of a help to you.
No matter the circumstances of my life, God is still on His throne. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). There is nothing that can unseat Him.
God was so moved by His love for the world that He laid His glory aside, humbled Himself, lived a sinless life, died the death I deserve, and rose again on the third day (Philippians 2:5-8, John 1:14, John 3:16, 1 Corinthians 15:3-5). The gift of His life as found in the gospel is where I first found hope.
Once Jesus rose from the dead, He ascended back to the right hand of the Father, is high and lifted up with the name above every name, where He is interceding on my behalf as I type this devotion (Philippians 2:9-11, Romans 8:34).
Any suffering or trials that we may bear were first borne by Him, and He not only provides us an example for how to suffer well but has left us a Helper to get through it (Isaiah 53, John 15:18-27).
And, finally, He has poured out His love into our hearts that we may truly find peace and hope in Him:
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”Romans 5:3-5
So I shall strive today to live – and hope – in such a way that people can see that I am not of this world because my Father is not of this world. I want people to see that I am an exile and seeking after something different than the world. Basically, I want to live my life in such a way that, when people want to know what is wrong with me, the answer is Jesus!
May we find hope in Him and point to Him no matter our situation!