13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
Peter is continuing his explanation of why what we do matters. My bible has this section divided into a new part, however it is related to what we previously read. I left off yesterday’s post saying, “The Holy Spirit enables us to change to behave within God’s will.” Here, Peter is saying exactly that, to allow Christ to change us from within; that we are to surrender to His will. This is what he is talking about when he instructs us to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts.
This message is also found in Paul’s writings about the fruit of the Spirit. “Against such things there is no law,” he says, reminding us that our good deeds cannot be judged righteously and that if they are, it will only expose the unrighteousness of our accusers. Now, don’t misunderstand, our righteousness is from God alone, but our actions as a result of His cleansing Spirit is the exemplification of it. I love the last half of verse 15. In The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission, John Dickson encourages to, “live a life worth questioning and when asked, give the apt reply.” It’s a restatement of what Peter is saying here; that we are to live by following the ways of Christ and always be ready to explain why we are different. Let us not forget how Peter instructs us to do so: with gentleness and reverence. We must make sure that our answer is not one that portrays arrogance, but rather love.
Secondly, we also need to recognize that Peter is actually warning us at the end of this passage that despite our best actions, attitudes, and efforts, there will still be some that revile and judge us. It is to be expected! We cannot let these interactions bring us down because just as when Jesus was hanging on the bloody cross being spat upon He said, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.” Similarly, I try to keep this in mind when I am often misunderstood, slandered, and straight up disagreed with. It is not to say they are lesser than me, rather that we are in different paths of life. It is not for us to react negatively to this, rather to understand that it is Jesus’ job to do the convincing, not ours. This is why He tells us to stop arguing and that it is easier to love people into the kingdom instead of scare them or trick them convincingly. Our individual relationships with God are just that, individual. While we can guide someone in the right direction, it is ultimately their choice to make.
Peter’s point here is that when we make the choice to follow Christ, that our actions will be evidently different from the world and our presence will not only expose darkness, but cause people to question our choices since they will be contrary to “popular belief”. This is the meaning of being a witness for the cause of Christ.
Does your life reflect the ways of Christ which are opposite the ways of the world? What will you say when someone asks you why you are different?