1 Peter 3:14-16:
9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
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.
I have lots of thought about what’s going on in the world right now. I’m wired that way. I think & process internally. So, I spend a lot of time thinking about things, thinking about the world, thinking about why this or that is happening. I’ve written some about what I see going on. We’ve talked about this around our table here at church. In fact, we just talked about this today. Jim was sharing about how our response to evil should be to do good. And I wholeheartedly agree. It’s biblical. It’s not just in this passage, but Paul also mentions the same idea elsewhere.
But, this thought is striking me today. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
Many of the people who should have the most hope seem to have the least.
I live in a pretty Christian world. I’m a pastor. I’m surrounded by many Christians. Yes, I also know plenty of non-believers, but the majority would definitely lean towards believers. You would think that, since the majority of people I know are believers, then the majority of information I see them share on Facebook or hear from them in conversations would be hopeful.
But, that’s not the case.
Why do those of us, the ones who should have THE MOST hope on the planet, seem to be some of the main culprits of pessimism and negativity?
I’m sure there are a lot of reasons. We, just like everyone else, are inundated with negativity. Why? Because negativity sells. Negativity gets ratings. Negativity gets your attention and gets you to click. It’s easy to get sucked into it all. I do. One of my friends on one side will post an article and I’ll read it. Then another friend will post another article on another side and I’ll read it. Before too long, I’m started to get filled up with negativity and despair.
But, I think there’s another reason. I think many of us, falsely believe that we in a war against those among us who believe differently than we do.
May I make something clear? We are not in a war against other people made in the image of God.
Before you go thinking I’m this or that, let me explain. We are not in a war against people, we are in a war against deception. There are many among us who are deceived. There are lies being hurled to and fro. There are lies driving one side to attack the other and there are lies driving the other to retaliate. Our battle is not against people who think differently than we do. Our battle is against deceit.
How we see people changes everything. If we see people who believe differently than us or who have been deceived by this or that, we have an incorrect view. Every human being is made in God’s image. No matter how right, no matter how wrong.
Without getting into the muck and mire of all that’s going on, I do also need to say, there is truth. There are absolute truths that exist. There is an order God has designed and put into place, and when we operate in accordance with that order, we thrive. Truth, however, is not found in the agendas of various organizations. I don’t care what viewpoint or stance or side, all organizations are driven by an agenda of some kind. Some good, some evil. But, the truth for humanity is not found within that agenda. We must be very careful about allowing ourselves to be led by organizations that are not clearly lined up with God’s truth. Why? We may find ourselves being used as a pawn in someone else’s game.
We only find truth from the one who is the truth. Who is the only person that lays claim to the truth? Jesus. He also happens to be the only one that has proven He is the truth and worthy of the title. The one about whom hundreds of prophecies were written and fulfilled, the one who spoke of things yet to come in his life that were also fulfilled, the one who predicted his own death and resurrection, the one whom hundreds of witnesses saw ascend into Heaven and the one who sent His Spirt of truth to dwell in his followers is the only source of truth in all creation. We do our best, as believers to interpret other things in light of God’s truth, but the only absolute truth that exists is the truth that The Truth Himself created.
I think that’s part of where we are. We’ve allowed ourselves to become pawns in someone else’s game or games. That’s why we struggle with hope, because we’re not really in the business of hope. We claim to be, but our real loyalties are in the agendas of these other organizations. We don’t have a reason for the hope we have, because our hope is no in the power of God working in the hearts of people our hope is in the power of “the man” and making sure that “the man” in charge is “our man.”
Hope Doesn’t Seem To Be Anyone’s Platform.
I don’t hear a lot of people talking about hope right now. I hear a lot of tearing down. We’re pretty good at that at the moment. We tear down people who disagree with us. When someone disagrees with an opinion, we can’t just have a civil disagreement and remain friends, we have to unfriend them on Facebook and take some kind of “principled” stand against them for holding such beliefs.
I’ve watched quite a few of the videos that have been posted of what’s going on at these “protests” and “rallies.” There’s not much in the way of hope. A lot of back and forth derogatorial statements. But, it seems that the platform isn’t so much hope as it is hate. For some reason, at this present moment, we hate those who disagree with us.
Hate is a strong word, but that’s the only word I can come up with. The fruit of hating people who hate you is hatred. That fruit is very much in season at the moment. Hate has flooded the market. And it’s driving us all down in the process.
Where is our hope?
Jesus is the only hope. There is no other source of hope. Jesus died to set us free from our bondage to the lies and deception of this world. There is coming a day when He will return and everything will be made right again. All that is wrong with the world will be gone forever and only truth will remain. We have the hope of that day that is still yet to come.
But, we also have hope for today. Jesus didn’t just die to set us free from the power death holds over us, He also, send his Spirit to dwell in us. Which, by his own words is the spirit of truth. And the Spirit of truth will teach us all things, and guide us into the truth. (John 16:13) That means we also have hope for the right now. The Spirit of truth wants to transform our lives today, in the here and now present realities we are living in. And if the truth sets us free, then we can also experience freedom today. We have hope for today.
And, for us who believe, who have already received the benefits of this hope, who have the future hope awaiting us…we need to become the purveyors of this hope.
What is a purveyor? A person who sells or deals in particular good; a person or group that spreads an idea, view. etc.
Purveyors of Hope
This is my agenda for this article. This is the platform I would like to see built by believers across this country and around this world. I do not have a big following. I do not have an extremely popular blog, nor am I a pastor of a mega church. I am just one person. But, if you’re reading this, that makes two of us. And together, we can start moving people towards hope.
What if, instead of responding to those with whom we disagree by spouting more incendiary comments, we sought to be the peacemakers we were called to be? What if we sought to become masters in the ministry of reconciliation? Not just reconciling person to person, but seeking the ultimate reconciliation, bringing lost sons and daughters back into a right relationship with their father.
Maybe we can join those who have gone before us and make our small contribution to the cause of humanity by joining them in dreaming of a better tomorrow. Maybe we can become those who are more interested in selling people on a dream for the future of this country than we are in trying to get more people on our side of the red rover line. Maybe we can get bold about hope, get bold about the good that we see, get bold about the dreams we have and the dreamers we know. And instead of allowing ourselves to be drawn into negativity, we find ourselves boldly standing up with the hope that we have.
May this become our platform
- May we find ourselves, when standing in the midst of negativity and hatred of all kinds the brave voice, willing to stand up for hope. Willing to say, I see a better way forward for all of us. Willing to say, we may never agree on this issue or that, but there are things more important than our agreement. After all, what kind of agreement is it if we have to force upon one another. Instead of being drawn into negativity and bitterness, hatred and unforgiveness, we will boldly proclaim that there is hope for us all.
- May we seek the brotherhood that was once written about and sung about by our ancestors and may that brotherhood truly become our crown.
- May we become masters in reconciliation, quick to admit our wrongs and quicker to celebrate others accomplishments.
- May the footprints that we leave, everywhere we live and walk, be the footprints of feet fitted with the gospel of peace. Not just peace between men, but peace between men and God.
- May we seek to be filled with righteousness, not our own righteousness or righteousness in the eyes of the a world that is constantly changing the definition of it, but filled with the righteousness of God. And may we be so filled with that righteousness that it overflows out of our lives onto the world around us.
- May we become passionate about the truth. The truth that gives actual meaning to life. The truth that tells us what is actually right and what is actually wrong. The truth that is not only knowledge, but presence. Not only factual but practical. Not only intellectual but effectual.
- May we become more focused on being and living rightly than we are about pointing out how others aren’t.
- May we become instruments of Justice, God’s true and lasting Justice for the oppressed. Not justice that makes me feel good, but justice that seeks a long lasting, effective solution.
- May we become a people so internally changed by the grace and mercy of God that we are passionate about mercy.
- And and may we all do this with the utmost humility. May we understand that it is God at work in us, causing us to will and to act according to His great purposes. Apart from Him we are nothing, in Him we have the fullness of life.
- May we constantly work at turning the eyes of this world away from the hatred and violence and negativity and point our eyes towards the hope. The hope that we can all possess if we choose. The hope that is available to all people of all nations of all genders and races. Pointing people to the hope that when it is fulfilled looks like people from every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne and before the lamb…holding palm branches (a symbol of victory) in their hands…having endured great trials and having been washed by the blood of the lamb…we will one day be sheltered by the presence of the almighty, at that time we will no longer hunger or thirst, the sun will no longer scorch us and the lamb will be our shepherd who leads us to springs of living water and will himself wipe every tear from our eyes.
We’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s going to take a lot of effort, but if we all get busy spreading hope things will get better.
Will you join me?Read More