A Beautiful Identity and Calling

1 Peter 3:13-14 – “Now who is there is harm you if you are deeply committed to doing what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake you will be blessed. Have no fear of them or be troubled.”

Peter is writing into a culture that is getting ready to undergo persecution. Christians are getting ready to be killed for their faith. They are getting ready to be hurt, ostracized, isolated, and even martyred. So what does he say to them? Stay deeply committed to Jesus. Keep doing good. This would become the identity of the church in the first century. They would be known for their commitment to Jesus and by the good that they did. They would be known for their faith and for their love.

He doesn’t say to them stop doing good, or quit acting as ambassadors of Christ. That would have certainly have been the safe thing to do, but its not what Peter says. He says live in such a way that people see Jesus in you. Love other people, care about other people, live differently than the world. This will cause people to take notice and then when they ask you why you are different, tell them about the hope that you have in Jesus. Tell them that the Gospel has transformed you. Tell them its not you, but its the grace of God that makes the difference. Don’t run from your identity as Christ-followers let the world know, even if they persecute you. The easy thing would be to hide out and stay silent, but that is not how they are called to live. They are called to live with boldness and with love.

We are as well. We aren’t persecuted today thankfully, even though many people would say that Christians are increasingly isolated in our world today. We are considered irrelevant or extreme. A recent survey says that 52% of the people in America are skeptical of Christians. So what do we do? What does the church do? What do we do as individual followers of Jesus? We stay deeply committed. That commitment will shine through in a world where commitment doesn’t mean anything. If we are committed to Jesus, to living out our faith not just inside the church but outside the church, then the world will have to take notice. If we are committed to loving people inside the church and outside the church then the world will take notice. They will have to ask why are you different? And the answer is of course JESUS.

Another survey said in essence that many people think the church can be a force for good in the world, even though they aren’t sure how. Peter tells us how, love other people. Jesus of course told us the same thing when He linked loving others with loving God when He was asked what the greatest commandment was? We are called to love. That doesn’t mean we compromise truth. We don’t compromise God’s word but as Peter alludes to it is possible to not compromise and to love others. Jesus came into this world with grace and truth. We as His followers must display both to the world. If we just display grace, then sin is widely accepted and even encouraged. If we just display truth then we are dogmatic and uncaring towards people. Jesus calls us to follow Him which means to be people of grace and truth.

There is a surprising insight here, we can love people that we disagree with. Christians have done it for centuries. When the black plague hit many people, including the political leaders and doctors were running away and leaving people to die, Christians stayed behind to help the sick and dying, even though they were risking their own lives. Christians have established hospitals and cared for people with deadly diseases since the first century. When the ebola crisis hit who ran into the places where the virus was raging? Christians they ran in with grace and with truth. Even today in communities where Muslim people are being killed by Muslim terrorists who is there caring for them? Christians. They certainly do not agree theologically with them, and they aren’t watering down the Gospel that says there is one way to heaven and His name is Jesus, but they are reaching out with His love to a people that need His love.

What is our identity? We are followers of Jesus. What is our calling? To be deeply committed to that and to reach out to this world, even those that disagree with us with His love. Let us remain deeply committed as Peter says no matter what.

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