Go on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook (do people even use this anymore?), or any social media outlet right now. Find anything interesting? Maybe a really great photo of that super cute guy/girl you’re crushin’ on, a “totally relatable” Tumblr post, maybe a super trendy photo of Kit Coffee? Any of you find some crazy political posts?! Go on to any social media outlet today, and you will find a slew of people making their political opinions known to all who are willing to listen. We all see it. We all try to avoid it. Maybe we’re the ones instigating it…Who knows! Nowadays, it seems pretty easy to have an opinion on something (or everything), but far too seldom do we actually know why we stand for something we believe in.
1 Peter 4:15-17 (ESV) says, “…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.”
This verse is killer. I know there’s a lot of information, but by dissecting it, there is so much wisdom within it; some of it may even appear as straight-up common sense.
A lot of us would perhaps consider ourselves Christians. Someone may ask you, “Why are you a Christian?” Some answers could be: “I was born in Christian home!”, “My parents are Christians!”, “I go to church every Sunday (and am even in a Life-Group)!”, or “I was lost, and Jesus found me!”.
Not that any of these are bad answers or not characteristics of a person who may be a Christian, but maybe these aren’t the most solid answers for why. If we’re choosing to follow Jesus and live a “life set apart from the world,” then I think we may need a little more incentive than merely being born into a Christian home.
If you call yourself a Christian, maybe reflect: why do I choose to follow Jesus? By having a strong answer prepared for those who may inquire about our faith, and really owning up to what we seem to “label” ourselves as, not only are we showing confidence in the faith that we have, but we are serving as a witness to those around us that our faith is real, and that in effect, the love, forgiveness, and redemption through Jesus Christ is just as real.
But, unlike many of the perhaps political or religious debates of today, we need to answer such inquirers with respect. By responding to someone rationally, calmly, and collectively, we not only help them become more receptive to what we’re saying, but we actually show the work of Christ within us, by way of our patience and love. In addition, we even strengthen the odds of drawing, rather than deterring, those who may be curious about our faith. By not losing our temper, saying mean things, or blowing our top, we actually put those “haters” to shame, by presenting an example of self-control and love. Kill them with kindness.
Most of all, as the end of verse 17 says, “It is better to suffer for doing good if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” Dang. If we actually claim to be Christians, have a legitimate reason for following Christ in our daily lives, and respect those around us with different opinions, then we need to act like it. Someone is not merely going to follow Jesus because it’s fun or easy, because most Christians know that a true commitment to Jesus Christ is not such. Rather by living up to a different standard than the world’s, choosing good over evil, and maybe even suffering in our world for the justified cause of Jesus Christ, we are becoming living and breathing advocates of Christ. Not only talking the talk, but actually walking the walk.
So, when you’re carrying through your Monday (ughhhh, Mondays), maybe challenge yourself with the three parts of this verse:
1) Don’t just say or know what you are (a Christian), but WHY you choose to follow Jesus.
2) When sharing our faith or opinions with others, we need to be respectful and considerate. You’re not always going to agree with those around you, but if you are sharing your faith and want that faith to make an impact in others’ lives, I mean, you’re going to catch more bees with honey, #amirite?
3) Good always trumps evil, therefore, if you suffer for the sake of Christ or “good,” God sees and he justifies us in all things. If we’re going to claim our faith is real, we need to act like it. Get some skin in the game, and be willing to fight and maybe suffer for a cause you believe in.
Written by: Isabella Redjai
HSM Student Leader