Summary: I honor Jesus as holy when I fear the displeasure of God more than I fear the disdain of man
Last week someone submitted an anonymous question/comment on the sermon that read:
I’ve become a very angry believer, I look all around and see only Satan taking over this world. Just once do I want to see God do a mighty thing. It’s like he isn’t here anymore.
I’ve got to tell you I really admire the honesty of that comment because I think a lot of us feel a lot like that at times. We do live in a world that is increasingly hostile to Jesus and to His purposes, plans and ways and we’re tempted to ask “Where is God?”
But we’re certainly not the first generation to face this kind of hostility towards God’s people, nor are we the first generation to ask these kinds of questions. If you’ve spent any time at all reading in the Psalms lately, you know that the authors of many of the Psalms looked around at a world in which it appeared that evil prospered and good suffered and they basically asked “Where are you God?”. So I think that when we ask those questions we’re in good company as long as, like the Psalmists, we don’t stop there.
In almost all of those Psalms, the author eventually recognizes that God is not absent at all. He is at work in ways that we often do not see. And they also come to understand what we’re learning in our study of 1 Peter – that there is more to life than just what we see here on earth. Because we are only exiles here on earth and our permanent home is in heaven, we are going to experience pain and suffering while we live here. And the only way that we can possibly endure is to look ahead to the time when God will make everything right and reward righteousness and punish evil.
And, as we’ve seen throughout 1 Peter, that kind of mindset will result in living a life here on earth that is set apart, distinct and unique from the people around us. When we do that, it often makes our life here on earth more difficult rather than easier in the short run.
But the good news is that we can persevere knowing that God has caused us to be born again into a living hope in which He is keeping for us an inheritance that is imperishable, unfading, and undefiled and He is guarding us in a way that ensures we will one day receive that inheritance.
For the last several weeks we’ve been in a section of Peter’s letter where he has been instructing us about how we are to live our lives as exiles here on earth in order to be an example for others. And for the most part, that way of living is completely contrary to our human nature. It’s not natural to submit to our government officials or to our bosses or to our unbelieving spouses. So as we continue our study, its shouldn’t come as a surprise that Peter is going to further instruct us to live our lives in a way that is completely contrary to the world around us.
Go ahead and open your Bibles to 1 Peter chapter 3 and follow along as I read beginning in verse 8:
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For
“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 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, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.
(1 Peter 3:8-17 ESV)
Here in this passage, Peter alludes to…
Three possible ways to live: