Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 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.
1 Peter 3:13-16
Though we are always blessed in Christ, though we always experience His lovingkindness and goodness and love as we are always in His presence, we are still in this world, and this world is very meticulous in finding ways to discount the power, wisdom, and practicality of the Good News.
These verses state that we will inevitably be asked about the hope that we have in us. To this, we are advised to respond with what is ultimately described as 'good behavior.'
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
This sounds like something take straight out of a secular guide to standing up for what gives us hope. Though the more zealous of us would disagree to responding with gentleness and respect, I believe that getting our point through would involve some good conscience eventually. I dare say that even ISIS would see the disconnect between brutality and winning of hearts and minds.
On a side note, assimilation, and aggressive and brutal domination will only bring a tyrant so far. Caesar was ruler of the known world until he was betrayed by his own Senate. Genghis Khan wasn't so unfortunate, but they both didn't have suitable heirs to carry and resume their legacy. Sh*t usually hits the fan the moment a despot's priorities shift from accumulation of non-human resources to maintenance and prevention of attrition. What I gather from the story of Hitler is that no one man can ever control the whole world on his own strength.
So that being said, I just realized something. Power brings you a long way in establishing and pushing your point... A good conscience is superior, but only in the sense that it would definitely bring you further.
If these rulers had outstanding relationships with their children or any other potentials, they could have hade their legacies expanded and extended. Hitler may have had his chance in establishing a 1000-year Reich, but this, too, will have its end.
With power and good conscience, we can stand for what we believe. We can literally move mountains with our words as we communicate them to other people. With power and good conscience, we are able to dominate the earth, and even the heavens. Can we keep it up for an eternity, given time has no end? Probably.
But we won't. Because it'll all pass away. Christ said heaven and earth will pass away. And even if you don't believe in Christ, there's always going to be the high possibility that everything we know will eventually fall into entropy.
|'Fractal Black Hole'|
Art by Patrick Hajzler - see more of his excellent work at http://www.freeimages.com/profile/oeildenuit
I have to apologize. To say that everything as we know it will eventually come to an end in a second or in a billion years isn't the entiriety of my point. I say this to emphasize that my hope is not in power, nor is it in good conscience or good behavior.
Let's go back to the whole passage.
"...But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 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."
I like how Peter was guided to remind us to honor Christ as holy before his call for us to be prepared. It's like he was saying, 'be prepared by honoring Christ the Lord as holy in your hearts' - honoring Christ, Christ's holiness, Christ's lordship... the mere mention of Christ Himself is the cause for anyone to question to ask us for a reason for our hope. Some may already know that it is Christ that is our hope. I'm led to think that when we know that we are in Christ and Christ is in us, people will definitely notice.
Peter also mentions 'your good behavior in Christ'. Gentleness and respect, and having a good conscience, gracious speech seasoned with salt, are all perfectly articulated because we are in Christ.
Tell anyone that your hope is in Christ nowadays, and you can be sure that eventually someone will become hostile. But that won't be you, because you are in Christ. And in Christ, you will not always respond with power and/or good behavior, but you will definitely respond with the Spirit!
"...do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
- Luke 12:11-12
And that's all I really want to say. I praise God, for in Christ our strategies and words can get us so far, but it is our Father, who makes all things beautiful in His time.
So whenever you are confronted - or actually, in any encounter or endeavor, remember that you have the Spirit in you, because of Christ's finished work.
We can count on power, knowledge, skill, and/or will to an extent, but it all falls under the Holy Spirit... And this is not a spirit of fear; no, your actions are anointed with power, love, and sound judgment because of the Spirit of God!
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May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you His Shalom. - Numbers 6:24-26