Scripture Reference: 1Peter 3:12-18
Shouting slogans and arousing fear are popular methods for getting attention. We often use them in disciplining our kids, or arguing with a friend. They might be effective ways to get people out of office. Or even to get rid of people we don’t like. But they don’t change people’s hearts. Or produce lasting positive change.
Shouting doesn’t change anyone. Fear is not much better. It leads to more fear.
Peter’s counsel in this passage is radically different. As the shepherd of disciples in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) who suffer in the face of hostility, Peter gives his readers a manifesto for the Community of Jesus-Followers. A way of engaging with the hostilities around us. A way of living the Jesus- life between us.
“Be compassionate and humble,” Peter says in verse 8. “Do not repay insult for insult, but with blessing,” he continues in verse 9. And he goes on, reminding them to keep from speaking evil about others, and their ‘lips from deceitful speech (v.10). In other words, “Seek peace and pursue it (verse 11).” And a final thought: “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened (verse 15).”
Jesus’ followers should reflect something of His character, don’t you think?
Here is a list of some practical ways to apply Peter’s guidelines for living amid hostility. Since we are in different places in the road of discipleship, you may sense that God is showing you a different way to live out Peter’s principles. That’s OK. The main thing is to take a step further in that journey this week by choosing one thing and doing it.
One more thing… why not invite someone to take that step with you?
- Maybe you have a broken relationship with someone. Peter reminds you: “Seek peace and pursue it.” God will honor your efforts to restore a relationship. Take the first step and reach out to that person; be compassionate and humble as you speak with the person.
- As election season heats up, observe how the candidates treat each other. Write to one or two of them: if they seem to attack each other and fail to focus on the issues, let them know that you are not satisfied with that approach, and challenge them to a more civil campaign. Or write a note of appreciation to a candidate that seems to avoid pettiness and shows genuine concern for serving the people.
- There are a lot of hateful and fearful messages floating about the internet. Most of them are designed to scare people and have no practical or positive advice. If you get one of these, take the right step: delete them. Do not forward them to your friends. Instead, spread messages that bless and do not curse (see verses 8-9). Start a revolution of good news messages!