By Randy Keene
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Minor Hill
In this week’s lesson the writer really brings home the point that we can endure suffering because of our hope in Christ. The Bible says it rains on the just and the unjust, meaning that trials and suffering affects both believers and unbelievers. Everyone is affected. Similarly. today it seems like everyone is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In some way, it has impacted our lives, some more than others.
In Peter’s day, as today, Christians were suffering for the cause of Christ. He wanted them to be sure that our hope found in Jesus was going to be sufficient to get us to the other side. How would you handle being rejected, misunderstood and even falsely accused because of your witness?
In the first part of our passage text we are called to love and to bless even those who would intend evil toward us. Peter reminds his readers to be “like minded,” even compassionate and sympathetic, humbling yourselves as you love one another. In my prayer closet on Sunday mornings, toward the end of my prayer, I always say basically the same thing, Lord help me be more like You.
Before going full time in ministry I was bivocational. My other vocation was serving as a police officer in the city of Pulaski. As an officer, I often encountered people who didn’t like what I stood for or sometimes the actions I would lawfully take.
In the beginning of my 22-year career I admit I wasn’t very good at being sympathetic or humble and full of love. But it is my testimony that the closer I drew to the Lord, the more humble and compassionate I became. By the end of my career, the thought of repaying evil for evil or insult for insult was way down in the bucket.
As we are mistreated and misunderstood for our stand, we may not change the other person, but we definitely prove that the Lord has changed us. Here are three points to help from Psalm 34: first, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceit; second, turn away from evil and do what is good, and third, seek peace and pursue it.
As we represent Christ in a fallen world, we will encounter evil. One preacher said we are to be in collision with evil, not in collusion with it. Peter explained that we would become better because of our suffering for Christ’s sake.
As this lesson ends, Peter asks his readers to be ready to give a defense to anyone who might ask about the hope that is in us. The tests we endure can sometimes be a great witness to someone who is without Christ, and a faith builder to those who are in Christ.
As a pastor, I have spent many hours sitting with a beloved church member as they cross over to the next life with lost loved ones in the same room. On many occasions, the way they left the suffering of this world has been enough conviction and testimony to the grace of God, that loved ones bound for hell have accepted Jesus as Savior.
Those deaths gently and respectfully testified of the goodness of God and His will for people’s lives. That’s how I want to go, Amen? We do have an enduring hope.