......... but do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscious, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” - 1 Peter 3:15-16
As Pastor Beaty walked us through 1st Peter 3 earlier today, it struck me that this verse actually summarized the major theme that Peter has been hammering home to the readers; fundamental doctrine and our response as believers. Often, Peter has emphasized the fact that Christ’s resurrection is the sole reason for our hope and our “glorious salvation.” He has used the words of the prophets and the psalmist to teach of the Messiah’s fulfillment of prophecy. The first two chapters are heavy on reminders of Christ’s suffering and His victory.
Why the doctrine first? I believe it is so that we will desire to live in a way that is more about Jesus and less about our comfort. So that we will see that freedom in Christ is not necessarily equal to independence in this world, but to submission and service. So that we will honor God with our actions in a way that demonstrates our full gratitude for the sacrifice He made on our behalf. In other words, we don’t “have to” follow any of these instructions to gain salvation, rather it is our privilege to do so.
As sojourners in this world, our behavior may not always make sense. The idea of returning insults and slander with blessings, is not always the world’s first response. The ability to speak in gentleness and treat all people with respect and dignity, requires continuous strength from above. Peter knows that it is only when we live a life that reflects an “out of this world” character, will we be able to truly influence the world we are in.
In moving through this week, I pray that we are prepared to explain our hope (the cognitive) and that we always do it in a kind, compassionate and respectful manner (the relational). See you Thursday.