Sunday Reflections: 1 Peter 3:13-22
Begin with prayer
Good morning Father, Good morning Son, Good morning Holy Spirit. Open my lips to bless you, and my mouth shall declare your praise. Blessed are you, gracious God, I will give you glory and praise forever.
Take time to be thankful for the things you have done, the people you have encountered, the food you have eaten, and every sign of God’s provision and blessing on your life (Colossians 4.2)
Confess your sins to God and know that God ‘is faithful and just and will forgive your sins and purify you from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1.9)
Give to Jesus the burdens you are carrying and the things that are on your mind (Matthew 11.28). Pray for those in need, those who are suffering because of covid-19, and those who are on the frontline seeking to help and heal.
Reflect on the Word
Read or listen to: 1 Peter 3.13-22
The book of 1 Peter is a heartfelt letter of encouragement to the early Christians at a time when they were being persecuted by the Roman Empire. Some 30 years after Jesus had died and rose again, the believers were torn between keeping a low profile to save themselves from trouble, or speaking out and suffering in the same way Jesus had suffered.
We can feel like that today. Yes it’s true, we won’t be imprisoned for being a Christian - not in the UK, but we may be ridiculed, treated as though we believe in fairy stories, considered ‘fundamentalists’ or simply ignored.
On the other hand:
Christianity remains the largest religion in the world today,
the Bible remains the best selling book ever,
there’s a wealth of evidence that shows the events recorded in the Bible are true,
and, often at times of need, people ask the question ‘Is there more to life than this?’
1 Peter 3.15 says,
‘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’
This verse is often used to encourage us to be ready to share our faith when the opportunity arises. However, it is worth noting that the underlying context here is that of persecution and suffering. The concern is not whether you are ready and able to share your faith, but rather the very real fear of what may be the consequences of speaking openly about Christ. Verse 14 says ‘do not be frightened…’ and in verses 17 & 18 Peter argues that if you suffer then remember that Christ suffered before you.
Nona Jones is the Director of Global Faith Partnerships for Facebook. I went to a seminar she was leading and I asked her about the risks of sharing your faith openly on Facebook and other forms of social media. I know that people can be cruel and abusive on these networks. Her answer was
‘You should always feel able to be honest and clear about what you believe. But you should also share it, and interact with others online, with 100% grace.’
Nona went on to emphasise that we should speak with 100% grace, and 100% truth. Of course, we’ve heard this before. John, in his gospel wrote this,
‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.’ (John 1.14)
This is clearly what Peter means when he says,
‘But do this with gentleness and respect’.
Peter is concerned that the Christians are not frightened to speak out about what they believe. Peter is also concerned that the unbelievers should be given no good reason to find fault with the way the Christians say it and with the integrity of their lives. It is not just the message that matters, it is also the life and witness of the messenger.
Reflection and response
What kind of questions do you think unbelievers are asking at this time? How can you respond with 100% grace and 100% truth? We all have areas of our lives which still need the Holy Spirit to change and renew us. Is there one area of your life that you can bring before Jesus today to seek his help in becoming a better witness for him?
Lord Jesus, my Saviour and Friend, you came to me in grace and truth. Thank you that you have changed my life, and have shown me faith, hope and love. Continue your good work in me, that I may always be ready to speak to others, in grace and truth. Let my life display the wonders of your love. In Jesus name, Amen.
Further resources You can watch an overview of 1 Peter from ‘The Bible Project’ here. Many Christians in the world experience traumatic persecution for their faith. This ‘Open Doors’ video of Pastor Marcus in Northern Nigeria, tells a harrowing, yet inspiring story, of the persecution they suffered and their response. Ravi Zacharias International Ministries has lots of videos and articles that show the evidence of the truth of the Bible and the credibility of the Christian faith. You can find them on their website here.