Hope that Overcomes
But in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15).
When Peter wrote the verse above to the churches in Asia Minor, the term "Christian" was an insult. Society then considered Christians 'atheists' for rejecting all other gods but the Lord, and antisocial for refusing to participate with the community (some even their fami-lies) in their pagan practices and worship.
The climate then was quite similar to what many Christians are facing in the developed world today. Parts of society regard Christians as being narrow-minded, rejecting all other religions, philosophies and lifestyles incompa-tible with the Bible, and being exclusive, refusing to join in morally questionable activities like gambling, and taking a stand against practices like ancestral worship.
How do Christians overcome such prejudice and the suffering that comes along with it? The answer is: through hope. 1 Peter 3:15 instructs us thus:
1. Our hope begins in the heart
Peter reminds the Christians to set apart Christ as Lord in their hearts (3:15, NIV). The heart is where the battle is won or lost. Someone once described the human heart as an idol factory. Only when Christ is the sole object of worship do we have hope to overcome prejudice and persecu-tion, for through Christ we are born into a living hope (1:3).
2. Our hope gives us opportunity to share Christ
A distinguishing mark of Christians is their joy in suffering. We are not crazy people asking to be attacked, but we accept insults from others with grace and peace. This naturally leads those who persecute us to ask why we do not retaliate or despair. This is the best opportunity to share about Jesus who was despised and killed so that we may be glorified and have life (Isaiah 53:3-6).
3. Our hope is communicated with reason and respect
When sharing Christ, we do not shy from talking about sin and our Saviour, but we do so systematically and with integrity. We tell others the whole truth about sin and about the grace of our great Saviour.
Young Adults Retreat 2014Being good stewards. Look out for sign-up details in your bulletin. 10-13 Oct.
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