“Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks.” (1 Peter 3:15)
As I stood peering down at the unobtrusive street marker in Oxford, England it struck me as a portal to history. It's where in 1555 men known as the Oxford Martyrs had been burned at the stake for refusal to compromise their faith.
The apostle Peter knew something of what it meant to take such a stand. He who had denied Jesus three times would go on to display boldness and courage for the sake of Christ. The book of Acts records Peter being threatened and beaten for the faith. Peter, however, saw these confrontations as occasions to bear witness to the gospel.
Peter urges us in the same manner. “And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled’” (1 Pet. 3:13–14).
The apostle’s words bring to mind our Lord’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake” (Matt. 5:11).
How could we possibly consider such suffering to be a blessing or to lead to blessing? Only by a Kingdom consciousness. We know the King of kings. We serve and seek His Kingdom. Love for Him compels us and directs us. The culture of His Kingdom is counter-cultural to the world and its ways.
That’s why in the midst of threat we not only to stand firm, we are to speak up. When eyes are on us and ears attentive, we are to be at the ready to give a defense to everyone who asks us a reason for the hope that is in us, the good news of the Kingdom of God and His Christ.
How do we prepare ourselves to stand firm and to speak out? It begins with what Peter describes as “sanctify[ing] the Lord God in your hearts” (1 Pet. 3:15). When Christ reigns supreme in our lives, our perspective, our priorities, and our practices will follow His Kingdom cause.
REFLECTION: How would you explain the hope that is yours in Christ?
Unless noted otherwise, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.