15 sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; (NKJV)
1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV)
Are you a night owl or a morning lark? If you are a night owl like me, how do you react to the morning sunshine blazing through your blinds? Likewise, morning birds, how do you react to a family member coming into your bedroom at midnight and turning on the overhead lights while you are fast asleep? We cover our eyes! We try to keep the light out and stay in the dark.
The dark is a safe place to be—or so it seems. However, when the light of Christ is turned in our direction, the first instinct is to hide. But in today’s world, it is not so easy to hide. There are cameras everywhere. They’re on traffic lights, on street signs, in doorbells—actually, there is one in every pocket!
In this crazy year, how many cell phone videos have you seen posted? We have witnessed everything from impromptu concerts, to police courage and brutality, to rallies and protests. We’ve “seen” everyone from politicians to pastors caught trying to hide from the light. So, in this year of suffering, what can be done?
Peter knew something of suffering. When he wrote 1 Peter, the Christians were under severe persecution at the hand of the emperor Nero. Peter was writing to comfort and strengthen both Jews and Gentiles living throughout the northern region of Asia Minor.
Peter was “shining the light” into the dark corners and reminding these brothers and sisters, as I hope to remind you today, that now is the time for Christians to shine. In the world where Christianity is viewed with suspicion and sometimes outright contempt, this is the time to shine the light of Jesus! How?
First—“SANCTIFY the Lord God in your heart.” Live for Him. Separate yourself from the world, from pettiness, from personal sins. While our struggle with sin is ongoing, we must never let it rule us (Romans 7:13-25). Be loyal and commit to God. We must continue to grow and mature in our personal walk toward Christlikeness.
Second—“Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you for a reason for the hope in you, with meekness and fear.” When the camera is being turned on us, what do people see? Do they see that our walk is the same as our talk? Are we holding up Jesus or a shield? When the whole world is going crazy and everyone is feeling the pressure rise, are we the ones people seek out? Do they wonder why we are different? Why we are not ruffled? How we are at peace? Do we have a mixture of humility and fear that makes people ponder our lives?
And most importantly, if they ask, can we explain why? It is not enough to thank people or acknowledge our traits. We MUST point them to the divine reason for our difference. Peter reminds us to always be ready to give a defense. But he also reminds us that we must have good conscience. We must be able to go to bed each night knowing that we did our absolute best, but we also listened and obeyed. We were gentle, humble and kind even when the world was squeezing tight. And if we lost our step, we confessed and tried to make things right. This way, we have nothing of which to be ashamed and no need to hide from the light.
As we have seen this year, the cameras and the world turn on everyone at some point. Those who were once revered are now berated. There will be suffering for each of us. It’s not a matter of IF but WHEN. And when it does come, are we ready?
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Consider this question that Pastor Steven J. Cole asked his congregation in 1992: Is EVERY Christian called to bear verbal witness or only those with the gift of evangelism?
- Why do you believe what you believe? Can you explain it? We are not required to defend our salvation but to share it. Ask God today to help you overcome any obstacles in your way.
In keeping with the season of Advent, pray this week that our global worker families will experience deepening faith in God, in the work of Christ, and a well of assurance that God is leading them and will provide all they need for life and ministry.