Maintaining our Witness in an Adverse World
Read 1 Peter 3:12-20
"Always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you."
When being a Christian and standing for the truth of Scripture was popular, it was easy to identify with Christ and proclaim the Gospel publicly. But the world is changing. To stand for the truth of Scripture is to place oneself in conflict with our culture's prevailing secularism. But this is nothing new. Peter was writing to people who were facing intense persecution and suffering because of their faith. As we look through the pages of 1 Peter, we find they of suffering for Christ woven throughout the message. But Peter recognizes that in the face of opposition, it is easy to become silent. It is easy to become increasingly quiet. The world does not care what you believe as long as you keep it to yourself. Peter understood this pressure. In Acts 4, both Peter and John were arrested for publicly proclaiming Christ. The religious leaders then warned them to no longer broadcast the message of Christ (4:17). However, both Peter and John recognized that to remain silent about Christ would be in direct violation of the commission that Christ had given them (see Math 28:18-20, Acts 1:8). Consequently, they remained resolute in their commitment to proclaim Christ, even at the risk of further punishment.
When Peter writes to the churches scattered throughout Asia, he knew they were facing the same pressure. They, too, were being pressured to remain silent or face rejection and hostility. In response, Peter encourages them to stay faithful to their calling. To strengthen them, Peter reminds them of several foundational truths that are to govern their life and witness. First, we are not to allow fear to intimidate and silence our message. Rather than ridicule and rejection being harmful, they are to regard it as a blessing.
Second, to be bold, request them to sanctify Christ as Lord in their hearts. In other words, they are to reaffirm their undivided loyalty to Christ, a commitment revealed in their witness for Christ. To be a follower of Jesus is to be passionate about the Gospel, for we recognize that Christ is the answer to the brokenness of sin and people's lives. One cannot be a true disciple of Christ and be a closet Christian.
Third, they are to trust in God's sovereign control of their life (17). The reason we can continue to be bold even in the face of opposition and rejection is that God is the one who ultimately governs our life. If we suffer because of our testimony of the Gospel and our steadfastness to the Scriptures, then that is part of his plan. Peter again highlights this in 4:19 when he states, "Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right."
Rather than being silent to avoid any rejection, we are to be vocal in our testimony. The reason is found in verses 18-20. Christ death and resurrection provides the answer for people's most profound need. How can we remain silent when the eternal destiny of people is at stake? This brings us back to our public testimony. This testimony involves two critical elements. First, it involves how we live. We are to live in a way consistent with the Gospel so that people might see the transformational effect it has. Second, it involves a public testimony. We are to make a defense to everyone; that is where we are to use every opportunity to share the Gospel with others. Rather than being timid and silent when opposition arises, we are to be more bold and vocal.