The Hope in You
1Pet. 3:13 ¶ Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good?
1Pet. 3:14 But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated,
1Pet. 3:15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you;
1Pet. 3:16 yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame.
God’s people are to do good. Does this mean everything always turns out the way that we want, or in a way that seems good to us? No, but we are to press on anyhow and even when there may be suffering as a result, we are blessed.
The world fears many things, many of which may appear to be harmful but they should not be intimidating to the Lord’s people. Instead the Lord’s people are to look to him. In our hearts we are to “sanctify Christ as Lord.” The holiness of our Lord is to consume our hearts and his very nature, his holiness becomes a part of who we are, with his holy love providing a defense against the intimidations surrounding us. This is why we can provide a defense. Our defense is Christ’s holiness, “the hope that is in you.”
The power of God’s Holy Spirit to radically transform our lives is our hope and yet we should never boast about what the work that God is doing in us. We are to live in “gentleness and reverence.” Sounds a bit like the way in which Christ lived! He was maligned and abused and we should expect the same, but we press on for Christ is in us and our human behavior and responses are a result of his presence. Christ is the hope that is in you.
Airplanes often seem to provide an opportunity for conversation. People usually begin with a little chit chat and if the conversation progresses beyond this eventually we get to the question, “what do you do for a living?” When I share what it is that I do it can either shut down the conversation or spark a great deal of interest. The reality is that there are those who don’t want to talk about religious or spiritual things at all, or there are those who, once they understand that I’m a minister want to open up and share with me where they are in their spiritual walk. (Maybe it’s the way we all share our latest physical ailments with our friends who are doctors!) However, it is in that moment that I have the opportunity to give “an accounting for the hope” that is in me.
When that opportunity arises, how do we respond? Here we are admonished to share about the sanctifying work of Christ in our hearts and lives. The whole message of the gospel is one of transformation, one in which God’s people are made holy, for this is his desire for all of us. We are not to live our lives as out of touch saints, but as Holy Spirit-filled, Jesus-exuding followers of our Lord. Therefore a response really should not be difficult, if Christ is truly in us and filling us!
If that’s the case, why do so many followers of Christ have trouble sharing about their faith? Why is it that we feel the need for someone to teach us what to say when the opportunity arises to share our faith? I’m concerned that our inability to share about Christ comes from a watered-down easy Christianity that is not vibrant and transformational. If Christ is in me, transforming me and sanctifying me, then I won’t be able to contain what he is doing in and through me. So, if we are struggling with how to share our faith, maybe we ought to bring that to the Lord. Maybe we ought to ask him to search our hearts to see if there is anything that we might be holding back in our lives. Have we truly allowed him the space to sanctify us through and through? Are we holding onto our last vestiges of self and pride? If so, then we aren’t sanctifying Christ as Lord in our hearts. He wants all of us so that everything can be made clean and pure and overflow with Christ. Then the hope of Christ will exude onto those around us on a daily basis.
The hope in you — is Christ.
Lord, thank you for the incredible hope which you provide every day by your holy presence. Amen.