“But in your hearts set apart 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 it with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” 1 Peter 3:15-16
I’m sure you’ve heard it:
“I don’t go to church because churches are full of hypocrites”
It seems unfair that Christians are held to a higher standard than everyone else is because we claim Jesus Christ as our Savior. After all, we still struggle with sin issues even years after we get saved. We sometimes shake our heads because the rest of the world doesn’t seem to understand that we weren’t saved because we were ‘good people’. We are saved by grace alone.
However, all too often the accusation is warranted. Very often the church doesn’t look any different than the rest of the world. We act just like everyone else does. And all too often, the words of Ezekiel apply to the way we, as the church, live our lives: “And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, ‘These are the Lord’s people, and yet they had to leave this land.'” (Ezekiel 36:20)
The children of Israel identified as God’s chosen people, yet in their lifestyle, they were just like the nations around them. They constantly fell into idolatry until finally God had to remove them from the land He had promised them. We, the church of Jesus Christ, identify ourselves as God’s chosen people. In this chapter Peter is exhorting us to be different. Yes, we are called to a higher standard. We are to live our lives in such a way that we honor the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…even if it means we suffer for it.
In our humanity we are happy to live by the ‘golden rule’- providing that it is reciprocated. But Peter in verse 14 and 17 of chapter 3 tells us we should do good even if we suffer for it. Often suffering doesn’t come in the form of blatant persecution. Many times it comes from not being acknowledged or appreciated. I find it somewhat interesting that previous to this section of the chapter Peter talks to husbands and wives. In the intimacy of the marriage this really gets tested. I don’t think there is any person who has been married for any length of time who doesn’t know how disappointing and hurtful it can be when we do something special for our spouse and it’s either ignored or the response is apathy. (Please understand I am not talking about abusive situations.) I want to remind you of Hebrews 6:10:“God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”
Remember, we are serving the Lord Jesus Christ when we do good to others (Colossians 3:24).
Let us strive to serve the Lord by serving others and maybe win some to Christ by our good behavior.