Sanctify the Lord God (Chapter 3 Verses 8-22)
Some of these remaining verses are quite difficult ones (vv15-22). To keep the Lord Jesus in our hearts, as the holy Lord. This means because he is in our hearts (1John 4:4b; 4:15), we keep ourselves from sin and give the world no cause to malign us. The very fact that Jesus dwells within our hearts is our living hope (1.3). The inheritance waiting for us in glory is what we expect through Christ. So any who would question our faith, ask why we have such hope, we are ready to testify to Jesus Christ, he is our hope. But this testimony is to be given with gentleness and respect, says Peter (v15). Too often people are put off the gospel by us when we bludgeon them with the truth. Is there a sense in which we have to win the right to preach to people? No, perhaps not. But when they ask a question, we don’t always have to give them both barrels. But respectfully and gently explain things to them, we don’t know what barriers are there, what hurts are there from the past, what hang-ups. But if we go gently forward we might open them up and find out what makes them tick, what keeps them from trusting Jesus as their Saviour. And who knows we might get the opportunity to invite them to Church, or offer them a book to read, or even better get to pray with them. However, I freely acknowledge each and every situation is different, there is no one formula fits all.
Peter is a shepherd (John 21.15-17), and he cares for the sheep, he cares for these suffering Christians. And it seems some are surprised when they suffer for doing good. Why should this be, why shouldn’t we expect it? That sometimes is exactly what God wills, but that’s better surely than suffering for being evil and doing wrong? It’s truly amazing but in spite of all the Bible’s assurances and promises, we think when we begin to suffer that it can’t be God’s will, we must have gone wrong, off the track somewhere. Not necessarily so. Think of many of the saints in the Bible, David being hounded by his own rebel son, Job cursing the day he was born, Elijah running away from a wicked woman and telling the Lord it’s enough, even Paul who tells us he despaired even of life itself. What about this man Peter who writes these words, who knew what it was to suffer for righteousness sake? You see the Bible is littered with such testimonies. In all of these things God has made us more than conquerors, but it is in them, not out of them. He is proving, refining, changing, sanctifying us in them. But the power is in this, nothing can separate us from him and his love (Romans 8.35-39).
(© James R Hamilton, written May, 1998)