March 15, 2022
1 Peter 3:13-17 NIV
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.
Peter has put down his clipboard and he is going heart to heart with the team now. He has moved from coaching to pure encouragement. Hear today’s text in that spirit and tone and see if you agree.
I somehow think in the back of his mind this conversation with Jesus had to rise up in times like these, when he was talking to Christians who were taking it on the chin for the Kingdom. You will recognize the scene as the famous post-resurrection seaside conversation.
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” John 21:17-19
Peter belonged to Jesus, so completely, he had reached the level of Jesus’ own invincibility. He knew it would not end well for him. He knew it would end gloriously! He knew they can’t kill a person already raised from the dead. It made him untouchable by evil. Peter loved Jesus and trusted him so much he could stare death in the face and wink. This is a dangerous person to the Kingdom of death and darkness. All the mafia of hell comes against a person like this, and they can’t touch him. I wonder if these words of Jesus constantly reverberated through his heart and mind from that red letter day at Caesarea of Phillipi.
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it. Matthew 16:18
It takes a person like that to say things like this: Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?
And then he seems to catch himself, as if to answer his own question, “Actually, a lot of people are eager to harm you for doing good. In fact, the legions of hell are ever on the prowl for unwitting human minions to do their bidding.” Then he adds this.
14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”
And let’s not forget we are no longer dealing with amateur Pharisees and a a junior varsity high priest. This is pure, unbridled, teeth gnashing wickedness (aka The Emperor Nero). “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened,” he dictates to Silas, as he smiles. In my reading of Scripture and my life’s experience, evil is not the problem for the Church Jesus is building. It’s fear. We make a thousand mistakes when we give in to fear. Very good people do very bad things not because they are evil but because they are afraid. It’s why earlier he exhorts us to live in reverent fear of God alone (which is a kind of fear that is not really afraid). On that point let’s give Apostle John the last word today
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
And then Peter tells the chosen, scattered exiles his secret. Let’s save that for tomorrow.
Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. And on this rock you are building your Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Thank you for this mighty fortress—a bulwark never failing. We long to trust you more. Jesus, Jesus, how we trust you, how we’ve proved you over and over. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, O for grace to trust you more! Lord, we don’t want to play at this. We want to rise up into it. Perfect love, Jesus. You are perfect love. Holy Spirit bring us perfect love. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.
What do you make of this point about evil not being the problem for us so much as fear? Does it ring true? Do you carry fear? Be honest with yourself. Are you ready for perfect love to cast out your fear? I am.
For the Awakening,