Debbie's Dialogue (debate?) with God1
In the previous article we began looking at how Debbie responded when she first read 1 Peter 3:13-17 and the way it influenced how she conducted herself at work where everyone, it seemed, had it in for her. Continue reading . . .
In the previous article we began looking at how Debbie responded when she first read 1 Peter 3:13-17 and the way it influenced how she conducted herself at work where everyone, it seemed, had it in for her. Here’s the text again:
“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:13-17).
The first time Debbie read those words she found herself in a dialogue (a debate?) with God about what it meant for her life:
“V. 13 - ’Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?’ Come on God, you’ve got to be kidding me! They can take away my livelihood. They can destroy my reputation. They can spread vicious lies about me. They cut me off from any meaningful relationships in the office. And I’m sure a few of them would love nothing better than to see me sick and dying.
That’s when Debbie suddenly remembered Isaiah 41:10-13 – “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. . . . For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
And again she remembered Romans 8:31b-34 – “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
She also remembered what she had read only a few days earlier as she was working her way through the NT. In Hebrews 13:5-6, she read this: “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”
So let me get this straight, God. People can do a lot of really rotten and unfair things to me. They can steal my money, destroy my health, take my job, slander my name, maybe even take my life. But no one can touch my soul. No one can jeopardize my eternal relationship with you. No one can rob me of my redemption and the forgiveness of my sins. No one can separate me from the love you have for me in Christ Jesus. Is that it, Lord? ‘That’s it,’ she heard in her heart.
O.K., said Debbie under breath. Let’s see what else Peter has for me here. She read vv. 14-15. It seems I’ve got two choices. If I continue to follow Christ and his ways and suffer anyway, I can either be afraid of those people or I can honor Christ as Lord and take advantage of their treatment of me to tell them why I’m a Christian. ‘That’s it,’ she once again heard the Lord speak in her heart.
She continued reading vv. 16-17. ‘O.K. O.K. I get it. Those people at work may revile me and slander me, but in the end, on the day of judgment, they are the ones who will be put to shame, not me. And if I’m going to suffer, better that it is for doing what is right than for what is wrong.’ ‘That’s it,’ said the Lord. ‘That’s it.’”
I suppose I could stop at this point and say about this passage, ‘That’s it!’ But I want to explore in just a bit more depth what it means to “honor Christ the Lord as holy.” We’ll do that in the coming articles.