When we have Jesus in our hearts, what’s the best way to show it?
1 Peter 3:15-18
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 behaviour 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. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
This is a real mission statement right here. There’s a really specific way that Peter tells us to interact with people when telling them about Jesus. First of all, don’t be afraid (that bit comes just before the ‘But’ at the start of verse 15). Second of all, be prepared. A confused, disorganised mission isn’t much of a mission.
Thirdly, do it gently. Things like anger, revenge, frustration and impatience don’t properly represent the hope of Jesus. It’s easy to get tripped up on human emotions – in fact, it’s really what humans do best – but we need to be showing our new humanity, not our old humanity, to show what Jesus is like.
Lastly, don’t expect things to be easy. Suffering and sacrifice is at the very heart of Jesus’ message, and Peter says that it should be in our hearts as well. That’s not to say that suffering is good, but like Peter says, it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. It reminds me of the Proverb (25: 21-22) that says giving your enemy food and drink is like heaping burning coals on their head, or like Jesus says later, turning the other cheek. If our hearts are directed by the cross, our actions should speak loudly enough.
Head: What’s something that you would be prepared to suffer for?
Heart: When is it tempting to not be gentle when speaking to others about God?
Hands: What’s something real you can do to show that you revere Christ as Lord?
Prayer: Father God, keep Jesus in my heart always so that I am always prepared to answer people around me. Keep your Son’s sacrifice in my mind when I talk and act towards others, reminding me not to be cruel or arrogant or condescending, but instead to be gentle and kind and open when sharing the good news. Guide me so I don’t get angry or upset, but respond peacefully. Only your justice is true justice, and trying to get earthly revenge or satisfaction is only a distraction. Help me to speak and act with a clear conscience. Amen.
A song to listen to: Furious