Faith – Not Fear!

The slogan “Faith – Not Fear!” can be found on t-shirts and on Facebook. It is a good saying, especially in light of Peter’s direction in his letter.

Peter may have anticipated questions concerning suffering, persecution, and oppression when he posed the question in verse 13.

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? (1 Peter 3.13).

Peter understood Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount better than most and his answer to the supposed question reflected that fact.

But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated (1 Peter 3.14).

What did Jesus say about how suffering could be seen as being blessed?

Of all of the Beatitudes, I am most uncomfortable with what Jesus said about persecution. However, we all must wrestle in a Christ-like manner with the issue of persecution, suffering, and oppression.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5.10-12).

People who suffer for God’s agenda on earth are in good company. They join the prophets and other people who are loyal to his kingdom.

They are on the right side of history and will also be on the right side of judgment.

How can we live in faith and not fear?

If the slogan “Faith – Not Fear!” is to be more than whistling in the dark, we need powerful inner strength to live it out in hard times.

Peter’s guidance is critical at this juncture.

But in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3.15).

Faith will overcome the fear of suffering when Christ is at the center of our hearts.

God’s message to Isaiah fills out Peter’s thoughts.

The Lord spoke thus to me while his hand was strong upon me and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying:

“Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what it fears or be in dread.

“But the Lord of hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.

“He will become a sanctuary, a stone one strikes against; for both houses of Israel he will become a rock one stumbles over, a trap and a snare for the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (Isaiah 8.11-14).

How can we live in faith and not fear? Let’s follow Isaiah’s pattern.

(1) The prophet lived in a deep enough relationship with God that he was able to say, “his hand was strong upon me.”

(2) He didn’t pay attention to the conspiracies and fears of his surrounding environment.

(3) He showed deep reverence for God by thoroughly following God’s directions.

(4) He conquered fear because he knew God was his sanctuary of protection.

A Good Defense

Suffering, persecution, and oppression allow us to declare to the world why we can live in faith and not succumb to fear.

Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect.

Maintain a good conscience so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame (1 Peter 3.15b-16).

One of my favorite books by the French author Honoré de Balzac was about a society of aristocrats who were committed to helping the disadvantaged.

The French Revolution had deposed these aristocrats from their former lofty positions. They withdrew from society and quietly used their influence for good.

In a very subtle way, Balzac reveals that the motive for their behavior was a commitment to Christ.

May we witness to the work of God within us like Balzac’s fictional characters to the glory of God.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I continue our discussion of 1 Peter on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.

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