Summary: Everything we do as Christians witnesses to others who we are and what we believe. We cannot avoid our "witness stand" as Christains.
THE WITNESS STAND
Text: I Peter 3:13 - 22
"A man went out to a river for a time of quiet meditation one morning. During his meditation he noticed that the river was rising as well as a scorpion that was trapped in the roots of a tree. He tried to release the scorpion and with every attempt it drew back its tail ready to strike. An observer watching this man said, “Don’t you know that it is the scorpion’s nature to sting?” The holy man responded, “Indeed it may be his nature to sting, but it is my nature to save. Must I change my nature because the scorpion does not change his?” (Herb Miller. Actions Speak Louder Than Verbs. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989, p. 72). This story is like a parable in that it reflects a picture of the world that Jesus came to save. Like our Savior, we will be rejected by those to whom we try to witness. As Jesus reminded His disciples, “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). We will all have our “scorpions” that we are called to reach out to in Christian love so that others will know we are Christ’s disciples (John 13:34).
This passage of scripture reminds us of how we as Christians must reach out to others---even if they oppose us. As William Barclay once said, “No man escapes suffering, but for the Christian suffering cannot touch the things that matter most of all.” (William Barclay. The Daily Study Bible Series: The Letters of James and Peter. Revised Edition. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975. p. 230). Every day, we take the witness stand giving our testimony through our words and actions. Our witness demonstrates how “suffering cannot touch the things that matter most of all”. Even though people might ridicule us, verbally persecute and socially try to humiliate or exclude us, they cannot take away our salvation. In the day when Peter wrote this letter, people were often persecuted to death because of their faith. People of modern day might not kill those of us who are Christian, but they sure will attack our faith and try to kill our spirit through verbal persecution, and social humiliation.
Peter’s question was who will harm you if you do good? Are there people who will seek to do harm to others who are eager to do good? They answer to that question is yes. One of the things that we see in the Old Testament is what some scholars have called the Deuteronomic theology. 1) Deuteronomic theology: That branch of theology held that if you do good things, then good things will happen to you. That same branch of theology also held that if you do bad things, then bad things will happen. 2) No exemptions: In the Old Testament, Job was a righteous man and bad things happened to him. God does not show partiality because God lets it rain on the righteous as well as the unrighteous; and God also makes the sun to shine on the righteous as well as the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). Job’s friends were always questioning his righteousness if bad things happened to him. In the New Testament, our own Savior was without sin and did a lot of good and bad things happened to Him as well. Bad things can happen to good people like Job. Bad things even happened to our own Savior who was without sin.
How many times have you heard of whistle-blowers being persecuted? There is the true story of a young woman named Karen who was working to help make ends meet as her husband was in seminary. Karen worked for a pharmaceutical company that made syringes. She was asked to sign a clearance form for contaminated syringes. She refused and it cost her the job. Her refusal to sign that form cause the order for those syringes not to be delivered to the customer on time. “Officials of that company investigated the delay and discovered how Karen had protected them from the contaminated syringes, even at the cost of her job. The customer then hired Karen and increased her pay.” (Bryan Chapell. Standing Your Ground. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989, p. 23, 32). Karen’s former company had used extortion (using force and or threats to accomplish a desired agenda). Karen did what was required to have a clear conscience (I Peter 3:16) because she refused to be forced to do what was wrong. God always vindicates His people!
THE WITNESS OF CHRIST
Jesus practiced everything that He preached. 1) Before the cross: Jesus went the extra mile; tuned the other cheek; loved His enemies and prayed for them. 2) On The cross: When they crucified Jesus, He practiced all of these things. When He suffered at the hands of others, He did not threaten retaliation. If Jesus had wanted to He called have called for back up through the angels but He chose the cross instead. He truly demonstrated that He laid down His life not only for the sheep of His fold but also for the lost sheep. He truly demonstrated that He laid down His life for His enemies as well as His friends. 3) During His crucifixion: Once His Spirit left His body, Jesus went to preached to the spirits in prison who were disobedient before the flood in the days of Noah. Why is that so significant? Noah had preached to them for 120 years but they would not repent. (John MacArthur. The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005, p. 1915). Imagine how the people must have mocked Noah during those 120 years.