Today's Bible Reading: 1 Peter 3
Selected Biblical Text
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened." 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God?s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:13-17 NIV)
Reflecting and Thinking
When Christians act in such a way as to be examples in every relationship of life, such good conduct is incomprehensible in the eyes of the world. Incredibly it often results in hostility and persecution. Although not many people in this world are going to hurt those who try to do good, there are exceptions. Sometimes Christians suffer because they do what is right. Such suffering in the first century was often physical; we today may think also of emotional, relational, social, and economic suffering that comes when we do what is right. When Christians do what is right, even when it works against them, the world considers such behavior ridiculous, but Peter says that it is also an opportunity to share gently and respectfully the reason for our hope (3:15-16). A question: is this a part of declaring his excellencies or praises (see 2:10)?
Christians have the opportunity to do what is right and live good lives in all of life's relationships (2:12-3:12) -- with unbelieving neighbors, governments and authorities, masters or employers, husbands and wives, and other Christians. Such behaviors are evidence of our total separation from sin, even as Christ died for sins once for all (3:18). The majority of people today rejects the message and only a few believe. This was the case in the days of Noah and is still the case today. Baptism saves because of our submitted hearts and the promise that is ours through Jesus' resurrection.
Have you ever suffered for doing what is good or for doing what is right?
When have others thought your behavior did not make sense, because you were guided by a different standard?
When has your example given you the opportunity to express the reason for your different life, or the reason for your hope in Christ?
Describe the connection between baptism and Jesus' resurrection. In your opinion, is this connection emphasized enough in the church's teaching concerning baptism? Why do you answer as you do? How could we work together to make clear the connection?
Jesus submitted himself during his earthly sojourn; now authorities and powers are in submission to him. Is this a model that teaches Christians what will happen as a result of our submission? Why or why not?
Dear God, our humanity gets in the way sometimes of our imitation of Jesus. It is not easy to be submissive when others are mistreating us. Help me know the right and do the right. Help me seize the opportunities you provide to share my hope. Separate us from sin, because Jesus died for sin to bring us to God. Help me not to get so involved in difficult or unknowable parts of this text that I miss the real point -- the blessing that comes to those who seek God in good conscience in order to know the salvation He provides through our conscientious obedience. Forgive me when I find relationships difficult and challenging. Forgive me when I have failed to use relationships to your glory and honor. In Jesus' name, Amen.