Back to 3:16 – Your reason for hope (1 Peter)

sunrise for hope1 Peter 3:14-16 (NIV)
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.  

Greetings fellow bloggers,

It is nearly three years since I stalled in my exploration of the Three Sixteens, but today is the day to jump back in. With only four more of these 3:16 verses to go, perhaps I will make it to Revelation by Christmas! (If you missed all the earlier posts, on Matthew 3:16 through to James 3:16, then I’d encourage you to go back to the start and check them out.)

It is truly astounding the way such rich theology is anchored at this point in nearly every New Testament book. Admittedly, the more memorable verse sometimes does fall at 3:15 or 3:17, but this one starts in 15 and carries on.

Firstly, some context. In Chapter 3, Peter has been writing about submission to Christ and to each other, about our witness, and suffering in doing good. Verse 14 says, if we are doing what is right and suffering for it it, we should not fear the threats and slander of mere humans. These should be of no consequence to us (which is much easier said than done, right?). In fact, Peter says we are blessed/rewarded for the suffering we must endure, as we seek to live a holy life. This right behaviour ‘in Christ‘ (done in his strength and for his sake) is further described in verse 16. Other people are going to speak maliciously against us, but Peter says that when we act in good conscience, the slanderers who criticise our good behaviour will ultimately be put to shame. That’s tough for them, but good for us. (However, you certainly wouldn’t want to be doing ‘good things’ with that motivation in your heart – to shame others!)

So, what is the heart of the matter in this 3:16?

As I said before, verse 16 begins in 15, and it starts with a big BUTBut in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. In the midst of suffering and slander, revere Christ. This is Peter’s solution.

The presence of the BUT tells me that our natural inclination is to do just the opposite. Our natural reaction is NOT to revere Christ as Lord. Instead, we hold the opinions and power of mere humans as being more important than that of Christ. We are naturally afraid of living in a way that brings suffering for following Christ (verse 14). That is the precisely the way the World lives –  fearing one another, and the power that others’ have over us, yet constantly seeking the approval of those very people.

That’s why Peter has to say, “But . . “ do this instead! Honour Christ. Fear Christ.

Rather than fearing Man, we Christ-followers are to revere Christ as Lord, to recognise that He is the Lord of this universe and He holds ultimate power. Because He will Judge each of us, He is the right person to fear. And when we fear the right thing, everything else falls into place. When we fear the Lord, the suffering that brings blessing for us also brings hope and peace!

This is what Peter alludes to in verse 14, which is a reference to Isaiah 8:12-15:
12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.” (NLT)

In the fear of the Lord there is refuge and sanctuary. In fearing the Lord we find peace and confidence (we are not frightened), because we revere the true power! Isn’t that astounding?

Perhaps it is only when we patiently suffer for Christ that we find the strength and opportunity to express the HOPE that is in us.

What an encouraging bunch of verses we have here, which remind us that our strength comes from Christ! The meat in the sandwich (verse 15) is honouring or revering Christ, which brings us hope and a readiness to share the hope. This hope allows us to cope with the suffering wrapped around our hope, as we live for Christ in a world that despises him, and us.

Ultimately Peter’s message is this:
As you live for Christ, you will suffer – but you will be blessed and strengthened in your hope as you honour Christ as Lord of your life.  

That sounds like a pretty significant message to take away.
Thanks for another great 3:16, Peter!

(Note: If you have ever wondered how we got chapters and verses in the bible, you can read about it here.)

Power of Music in Parkinson’s

This is just astounding.

There must be so many other instances, which we have not yet discovered, where music has the unique power to unlock and overcome problems in our physical bodies, minds and emotions. Thank You for the music!

The Power of Thinking

thinkThis may sound like a really obvious thing to say, but when you tell others that you have been thinking about them, something good happens. If I were Oprah W, and had my own talk show, I may tell you that when someone thinks positive thoughts about someone else then it causes a cosmic set of ripples to flow out from you which can cross continents and oceans and contributes good karma to the universe . . or some such. But what I am actually proposing is much more practical and real. Let me explain.

While attempting to jog around the lake today (more of a jog/walk) the thought came to me that I should pray for my children, and specifically for their future spouses (if that is something that will be part of their future). I know many people who have made this a regular practice since their children were small, and I think we did it better many years ago; haven’t really discussed or prayed for them in this way for a while. So I did.

And the outcome? Well there weren’t 3 Christian Prince Charmings lined up at the door with application forms when I got home, but when I mentioned these thoughts and prayers to my eldest girl (15) I know by her response that she felt loved, knowing I cared about her future. No doubt this interaction, these shared thoughts, will lead to more careful thinking on her behalf as well. (Not that she needs to make a choice right now!)

Another example is a young mum who comes to our playgroup at church. She normally is difficult to engage in conversation, but by mentioning a simple thought to her, many new conversations have opened up about quite personal things. (You are probably wondering what ‘thought’ I shared with her? I simply shared that she really reminded me of the lead female character in the Hunger Games film. She checked her out and reported back to me the next week).

We all have so many thoughts about many different people throughout the course of a day. . . some of these are admittedly not always very edifying thoughts! But next time you are thinking, turns those ‘random’ thoughts to prayer, then see what happens if you share them with that very person (and let me know the outcome)!