Reading: 1 Peter 3: 13-17
Verse 15a: In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.
In our passage today, Peter addresses suffering for our faith. In the context of when Peter wrote these words, suffering was a real and very present obstacle. In the time right after Jesus’ death, there was much skepticism and a lot of persecution against those who professed Jesus as Lord. It was a hard, difficult time to be a Christian. Many people suffered a lot for their faith. Some were even martyred. In spite of this, Peter still takes on the reality and offers a reminder of the hope and promise believers have in Jesus.
Peter begins by asking “Who would harm you for doing good”? We tend to think the answer is ‘no one’ but this is not always the case. At times people may question a Christian’s motivation or may react negatively to attempts to help. Peter reminds us to count it as a blessing if we suffer for Christ. To him, this showed a willingness to follow Christ when there was a cost. It shows a high level of commitment.
Peter encourages us to not fear what the world fears – rejection, abuse, threats, being ostracized – but “in our hearts set apart Christ as Lord”. To endure suffering does bring us closer to Christ as we are, in our sufferings, being ‘like Him’. To keep or set apart Christ as Lord brings us strength and peace in the midst of it all. Living with Jesus as Lord keeps us focused on the eternal and not on the things of this world. Through this we have hope. Peter knows this hope firsthand.
Peter also knows that others will notice our peace and hope in the midst of trials and sufferings. And they will be curious. Therefore Peter advises us to be prepared to explain our hope and peace to others when they ask. Perhaps knowing that being in a time of trial and suffering can be hard on us, Peter also reminds us to respond with gentleness and respect. Love all. Always present His love first.
“Then they will know we are Christians by our love…” speaks of these concepts. And not only will they know, they too will come to desire the peace, hope, and strength that Jesus alone offers. Love first. Love all.