Scripture: 1 Peter 3: 13-4:6
Key verse: (15) “ . . .but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; . . .”
Reflection: I think everyone has heard the expression “no good deed goes unpunished.” There are times in life when we suffer for doing the right thing. Unfortunately, we live in a culture where people try to get away with things – they fail to take responsibility for their actions and hide their guilt. It is easy to talk yourself into believing you are doing the right thing, even if it’s wrong but “legal”. There are a lot of things that are legal, but not necessarily right – at least from the Christian perspective. Jesus taught us some things that look crazy to the world – loving your enemies; forgiving the person who has hurt you; turning the other cheek and not judging others. In scripture, God is very clear about keeping the Sabbath holy, caring for the homeless, the orphan and the widow and walking humbly with God through prayer, devotion and service. Jesus suffered for doing right and as his followers we might suffer, too.
The author of today’s text reminds us to hold on to our faith and not give in to fear and intimidation. We are to be ready to defend the hope that is within us. I have always liked this verse because it reminds me that this living hope I have been given in Jesus Christ needs to be shared. I need to be ready to address injustice, neglect, abuse and inhumanity. Not just some of the time, but all the time. We are called to move out into the world with gentleness and reverence. Following the example of Jesus, we are called to live according to the will of God. This doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes. We will because we are still afflicted by sin. But, hopefully, our actions won’t keep the persistent hope we have been given by God from shining through. May we live in the power of the Holy Spirit so that others seeing us might see the hope we have in Jesus. And, if we are punished for doing good, we are in good company.
Prayer: Loving God, help us to do what is right – not according to our will, but according to yours. We know your thoughts are not our thoughts and your ways are not our ways. Keep us from destructive pride and judgmental attitudes toward others. Help us to turn away from doing evil as we pursue peace. May the hope we have received from you take root in our hearts as we follow Jesus. In his name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].