Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say,
“If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.”
Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. — 1 Peter 3:8-13 NLT
My friends, these passages have come together with something I felt the Holy Spirit impressing upon me during my walk and pray the other day. We live in a time of opposition and daily see what that looks like all over the world. Yet it is more likely in places like our churches, on Facebook and social media, and the internet that we come in direct contact with opposition. And let’s not forget that we SUMites live with it every day as well. Whether it is spoken or not, we stand in places where our beliefs are not accepted in our very homes.
As I walked this particular day, the thought or pondering came to a question.
What would happen if we were so secure in who we are in Jesus and what we believed that no matter what the opposition we faced, we did not feel threatened or the need to prove ourselves or God.
It starts with our identity and along with that knowledge, understanding that we are truly secure in Christ. The Bible says throughout the Old and New Testaments that God is our refuge and our safety.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.— Psalm 27:1 & 3
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. — Psalm 91:2
David faced great opposition, yet stood his ground in his faith and trust in the God he knew would not fail him. That didn’t make his path any easier but the truth sustained him to keep going, to keep believing and in the end, it was God who proved him.
I remember as a new believer feeling overwhelmed by my husbands questions about my growing faith and also feeling so ill-equipped to defend it. And I am thankful for that because it thrust me into the Bible to study its truths and truly understand what I believed. That is the foundation I have now that enables me to answer my husband’s questions without feeling threatened or the need to prove myself, because I trust God to prove His presence and truth in me. Even if I must risk my husband’s opinion of me, I know I must stand on God’s truth.
Peter’s intent in these Scriptures was to encourage his readers to be of one mind as believers. He encouraged them to place loving each other as brothers and sisters in Christ above the disagreements and insults that seem inevitable as human beings who interpret everything we perceive, read and see in our own unique ways.
Peter calls us, challenges us, to rise above and agree to disagree when needed so that we can maintain the true focus of doing good out of love for one another. Let me propose that this is our model to follow with all those we encounter, whether they believe as we do or not. We know this better than most, SUMites, and what we have learned in our mismatched places is exactly what the world needs right now.
In line with 1 Peter 3:8-13 we have learned and are learning to:
- seek unity in our marriages with our pre-believer.
- love our pre-believer unconditionally with tenderness and humility in our acceptance of them just as they are, just as Jesus does.
- hold our words with more care and speak with love and truth.
- bring peace of Christ to our homes and maintain it through prayer.
- stand before our God in the righteousness of Christ Jesus as we pray and seek the Lord’s face not only for ourselves but for our pre-believer and our children.
- be zealous to do good even when we have felt limited.
- be a blessing to our pre-believer and to bless them even in the face of opposition.
No matter what I am faced with, my friends, I want to be so secure in my knowledge of and faith in God that I can listen to another person share their beliefs and not feel threatened within my own. Because I believe when we are secure in such a place, that we can listen and not try to change their mind, they are more willing to hear what we have to say.
It is not our job to change their mind or their heart. It is God’s. When we leave that to Him and simply share in an exchange of beliefs with another person, we allow the love of Christ to be present and begin that change of heart and perspective in a lost soul.
I will stop here for now. In the second part of this post I will share what these things we have learned look like when we apply them to the world at large and live our faith from this place of security in who are and Whose we are. My friends, it’s a place I firmly believe will have greatest impact on the world and those God is bringing into our realms to love and share Jesus. And there is an element to doing this that Peter mentions right in his words that I feel is crucial to the mix. Can’t wait to share that with you!