Tag Archives: Jesus

When you start to change and your friends don’t like it

30 Aug

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

Have you ever gone through a life change, and that change affected your friendships?

You know who your real friends are when you start changing.

Perhaps you believe new things, or maybe you have shed a long-held belief, and your friends are pushing back.  It could be that you have stopped doing something that you and your friends regularly enjoyed, and they are disappointed, even angry with you.

As Peter continues teaching in 1 Peter 4:1-6, he describes how the people he is writing to started following the way of Jesus, and as they moved away from the self-destructive patterns of their old friends, those old friends were not happy.  In fact, Peter says in verse 4, “they heap abuse you.”

“Abuse” is actually the word “blaspheme”, which means “to speak against someone in such a way as to harm or injure his or her reputation.” (Louw & Nida)

What Peter is describing could be the persecution those early Christians were facing.

So Peter goes on in verses 5-6 saying that those old friends will have to give account to God for their behavior. Then Peter makes a most interesting statement.  He says this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead.  Wait?  What?  The gospel is preached to dead people?

No.  Not at all.

Let’s examine this a bit further.

Peter uses the specific words, “preach the gospel.”  What is this gospel?  Gospel is simply a word that means “good news.” What good news?  Last week we looked at how Peter described the good news in 3:18 when he said that Jesus died for our sin, to bring us to God.  That is some good news, that people who are separated from God can now be with him.

But that is not the only good news in The Good News.  God’s good news is that he is doing a work of rectification, which is a big fancy word that means “making things right.”  God wants to set things right in the world.

As Peter has been teaching in this passage, God wants things to be right in our lives.  God wants us to move away from self-destructive sinful desires, and pursue his new way.

God’s Good News is not just a transformation of individual people.  God also wants to set the world right.  And so his good news is good news for all people, all creation.  Where there is injustice of all kinds, God wants to set things right.

That good news is what Peter says, “was preached to those who are now dead.”  “Was preached” is something that happened in the past.  Peter is talking about a preaching that occurred in the past.  Not present preaching, not future preaching.  Also, the word “now” is not in the Greek.  That has been added to help us understand the intent of Peter’s flow of thought.  He is talking about preaching that happened in the past, and some of the people who heard that preaching have now passed away.  They were alive when they heard the preaching.  They are dead now.  More than likely they had become Christians while they were still living, after they heard the preaching.

What does this all mean for those Christians reading this letter who are still alive and facing abuse from their friends?  While they faced criticism when they stopped their wild living and chose to follow the way of Christ, they can take great comfort that they are now living according to God’s way.

It is precisely at this juncture that some Christians have misunderstood what it means to live according to God’s way in our lives now.

I will never forget my visit to the Ephrata Cloister.  They wanted to remove themselves from the world, so they could not be negatively impacted by it.  It seemed like they wanted to live God’s way.  Except that Jesus specifically prayed in John 17 that God would not remove his followers from the world, but that God would keep them safe in the midst of it.

God doesn’t want us to escape from the world.  We can obey God while still living in the world.  The issue is not so much about figuring out what God’s will is for the myriad choices of living in the world.  Such as, can followers of Jesus watch movies or TV shows or play video games with certain ratings?  Can followers of Jesus wear certain kinds of swimwear?

Instead Peter is saying, start from a place where you stop indulging in evil human desires, and start following God’s desires for your life!

Certainly there are times when a follower of Jesus needs to stop or decrease a friendship because that friendship is a negative influence that the follower of Jesus cannot handle.  But in most cases, we followers of Jesus can stop indulging in evil human desires while at the same time maintaining genuine friendships with people who are not following Jesus.

So as we think about what Peter has talked about in 1 Peter 4:1-6, how about you?  Do you love God?

Are you living according to human desires, or according to God’s desires?

Have you armed yourself with the same attitude as Jesus, that no matter what goes on in your life, you are committed to do the will of God!

If you are like most of us, you have some of both.  You want to obey God, but you also find yourself giving in to evil human desires sometimes as well.

What patterns or habits do you need to change in order to live a life that is line with the way of God?

I encourage you to do what has often been called “soul-searching”.  Today is the day, Peter is saying, for us to stop or to begin to learn to stop following evil human desires, and today is the day to start growing our love for God that we might follow his desires for our lives.  He wants to change us into people that are different, and that might be hard for some of our friends and family to accept.  But God wants to change us into people that obey his desires for our lives, and that is the best way to live.

Christians, has Jesus transformed your life? Here’s how you can tell.

29 Aug

Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash

A question for any of you who consider yourselves Christians, followers of Jesus: would you say that Jesus has transformed your life?

Yesterday we saw that Jesus transformed Peter’s life.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Peter has that memory in mind as he continues his teaching in 1 Peter 4:1-6.  In verse 3 he builds on what he has already said in verses 1-2.  To review, Peter has taught that through suffering you are learning to be done with sin.  He says that Christians can choose to no longer live for evil human desires, and thus live for God’s desires, for God’s will.

Now in verse 3, I hear Peter saying: “Frankly, don’t you think you have lived a really sinful life long enough?”  In other words he is saying to them, “You have spent enough time in the past following evil human desires.  Keep following Jesus.”

Peter wants them to take a step back and review their life.  Apparently some of them had really lived it up in the past.  What Peter describes here is some risky behavior.  There is no self-control in this.

The scholars tell us Peter is referring to “drinking parties involving unrestrained indulgence in alcoholic beverages and accompanying immoral behavior.” (Louw & Nida) This is out of control stuff where you are risking your health on a regular basis.  In 2018, it would like getting high on heroine, sleeping around with anyone, getting drunk on a regular basis, and then driving vehicles drunk.  It is very selfish, wasteful, and irresponsible.

Maybe you’ve experienced some of that lifestyle yourself.  Maybe you know people who have.  Maybe your sinful behavior was rebellion in other ways.  Maybe there is some rebellion still going on in your life?

In what area of your life are you lacking self-control?  Is it your mind, mouth, attitude, money, time spent on TV, social media, video games, food, and you know God would say, “Follow me”?

Peter is saying to these Christians and to us that it is time to be done with that old life.

And that is exactly what happened!  Look at verse 4.

Peter reviews their spiritual story.  There was a change.  The people who were formerly partying it up had made a change. They had started following Christ, and they are living the new way of his Kingdom, or at least they are trying to.  The way of Christ is a way of self-control.  Think fruit of the Spirit growing in you and flowing through you.  Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control.  The new way is exact opposite of the way they used to be.  Where there was lust, there is now love.  Where there was anger and rage, there is now joy, peace, and gentleness, kindness.  Where there was rebellion and fighting, there is now patience and self-control.

Peter is talking to people who actually went through these changes.  So why would he need to warn them, if they had already made the change?

It could be that Peter knows how difficult persecution can be.  Especially when your friends are involved.  And that’s what we we’re going to talk about tomorrow.

The one crucial step that must come before doing God’s will

28 Aug

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

What is the will of God?

Yesterday we looked at the surprising weapon Christians are to arm themselves with: the attitude of Jesus, which was an attitude of following the will of God for his life no matter what.  As we continue studying 1 Peter 4:1-6, Peter goes on to say in verse 2 that we Christians will no longer live for evil human desires, but rather we live for the will of God.

What is the will of God?

Here is what the will of God is not: Peter is not talking about some special plan that God has for our future.

Very simply, living for God’s will is doing what God says.  Another great word for this is obedience.  We followers of Jesus are committed to obeying God, and Peter says that means that we no longer obey evil human desires.  What are evil human desires?

Another way to translate the words “evil human desires” is the word “lust.”  The scholars tell us that the word Peter used means “to strongly desire to have what belongs to someone else, and/or to engage in an activity which is morally wrong.” (Louw & Nida)

When you put verses 1 and 2 together, Peter is saying that through the suffering he mentioned in verse 1, disciples of Jesus are no longer living for selfish human desires, but we are to live for the will of God, which means we obey his desire for our lives.

This the key to living as followers of Jesus: we live to obey the will of God! To obey God’s desires.

To understand this further, Peter uses the word “Flesh” multiple times in these few verses.  In the NIV you see it as the word “body” and as “earthly life”.  What Peter is talking about is that there are so many desires that our flesh has.  But so far in verses 1-2 Peter has been saying that when we experience suffering in our flesh, it really puts things into perspective, and sinful desires pale in comparison.  Thus followers of Jesus make it our focus to live according to God’s will and desires for us.

Let’s talk more about living for God’s will.  It is such a foundational concept to Christianity.

But how to we follow God’s will?  It can feel a bit forced.  Peter is saying, “Do God’s will.” Or, “Just obey.” Is that all there is to it?  Just obey.  Can we just choose to obey?  Is it that easy?

Maybe you have a personality where if God says it, then you are good to go with obeying it, period.  No questions.  You are okay with it.  And you genuinely seek to obey.

But there are others of you who have a different personality or approach.  You hear, “do God’s will,” and you know that it is a good thing, but you are wondering, why should we obey God?  Or is that all there is to it? Is there a reason for it? Can’t God tell us more about this?

I would suggest that there is more.  And that Peter knows there is more.  And that Jesus taught that there is more.  And this is what is more: obeying God’s will is intended to flow from a heart of love for God.

When we love someone, we are inclined to respect them, serve them, treat them well, help them.  God doesn’t want us to obey him begrudgingly because he is the supreme power of the universe, and we are his creatures.  As if God is some dictator.  Or a master with slaves.  God wants us to do his will out of love for him. He wants to be in a real loving relationship with us.

I wonder, do you love him?

Of course we would say “yes” to that.  But perhaps we say, “Yes, I love God” too quickly, without examining our hearts and minds.

I use some phone apps to guide me in reading scripture and praying.  One is from the Book of Common Prayer, and it has morning, evening and night prayer services that you can read through and pray.  It includes plenty of Scripture and the Lord’s Prayer, other written prayers, spaces for silence and your own prayer requests as well.  One of the written prayers that is in there every single day always gets me thinking:

“As we rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence, O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you, now and forever, amen.”

And then yesterday, another app I use had this prayer,

“Dear Lord, instill in my heart the desire to know and love you more.”

In a week when I was thinking about a passage that emphasizes obeying God, these two prayers hit me hard.  Do I love God?  Of course, I love God.  But really, do I love God?

I thought of Peter, not long after Jesus was arrested and taken away.  That evening, Peter is following from a distance, watching, fear rising in his heart, as they put Jesus on trial.  Then Peter is spotted, and pointed out as one who had been with Jesus.  Peter allows fear to overtake him, and he denies knowing Jesus, once, twice, three times.  Vehemently Peter denies knowing Jesus.

Then the rooster crows, and Jesus looks out across the way, locking eyes with Peter.  Peter, who had only hours before made bold claims about dying for Jesus, now has denied him. He flees the scene, weeping bitter tears.  But a few days later, Jesus rises from the dead, and Peter is a changed man.

Jesus reinstates him, saying Peter, “Do you love me?”  Three times, one for each denial.  And each time Peter says “I love you.”

This is a different Peter now.  Having acted out of fear instead of love, Peter is now set on a trajectory of loving Jesus that will carry on for the rest of his life.

Jesus transformed his life. Jesus wants to do the same in your life.  He wants to restore a loving relationship between you and him.  He is not a taskmaster forcing you to do his will.  Instead, he wants you to know, out of mutual love for one another, that loving him leads to obeying him which is the best possible way to live.

The surprising weapon followers of Jesus arm themselves with

27 Aug

Photo by Cmdr Shane on Unsplash

One of the biggest questions followers of Jesus ask is: how much should we be in the world, exposing ourselves to the world, participating in activities or behaviors that are considered normative in the world?

And by contrast, how much should we remove ourselves from the world? Which behaviors should we stop?

How much should we play video games, watch movies and TV, and which ones?  Should we trust the ratings systems?  Is it okay for 13 year olds to watch PG13 movies, for example?

And what about the many varieties of food, drink and drugs available to us, for our pleasure?  How much of that should we partake of?  As substances like marijuana become legal, should we partake?

What clothing should we wear?  How much skin should we show?  What is modest?

This was as big a deal for the earliest Christians 2000 years ago as it is now.  How do we be in the world, but not of it?

Where it really gets tricky is in the area of friendships.  If you are a follower of Jesus, and you have friends who are not followers of Jesus, how much should you do what they do?

As we continue in 1 Peter, we have arrived at chapter 4, and Peter addresses these issues.

In verse 1, the NIV’s “arm yourselves” is a great translation of the word Peter used.  It truly has military overtones!  Think of soldiers preparing for battle.  Strapping on bullet proof vests, helmets.  Lacing up boots, attaching a knife, grenades, ammunition and of course their gun.  A backpack with all kinds of equipment.  They are ready for battle.  No doubt Peter is talking to those early Christians this way because he sees that they, too, are in a battle, but it is not a military battle.

So how should followers of Jesus arm ourselves?  How should we get ready?  What equipment do we strap on?  The attitude of Jesus.

What was his attitude?  It is most clearly described in a place called the Garden of Gethsemene, just a short walk outside the city of Jerusalem.  Jesus was there on the night of his arrest, praying with his disciples.  Remember his prayer?  It was intense.  He knew that his arrest, beating and death were right around the corner.

How would you feel if you knew that within hours you would be severely beaten, falsely tried, and killed?  I would be freaking out.  While Jesus was definitely emotional, he wasn’t losing control.  The anxiety was massive.  And yet what did he pray?  “Father, not my will, but yours be done.”

In the face of severe bodily harm, Jesus remained 100% committed to do the will of God.  That is the attitude Peter says we should arm ourselves with.

Why?  Because, Peter says, “he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.”  But what does Peter mean when he says suffering in the body will lead to being “done with sin”?

Peter’s flow of thought from 3:18 all the way through 4:6 has Christians in mind, and how Christians can handle suffering.  In other words, he is saying, “Christians, when you suffer, it puts things in perspective.”  You’ve maybe experienced that yourself.  When you go through a hard time, you realize so quickly and clearly what really matters in life.

When you are suffering, you’ll realize that your previous sinful choices were so wrong.  We might even call this the process of sanctification.  Sanctification is a big long Christian theological word that refers to the process of being set apart for God.  During that process of being set apart, we are being shaped and changed, so that gradually we act more and more like Jesus would.  All disciples of Jesus are undergoing this process, where the Spirit of God, if we allow him, is at work in us.  What we find is that suffering, as painful and difficult as it is, actually grows us faster and more deeply, when we allow it.

Unfortunately, some people do not allow suffering to shape us to become more of what God wants us to be. Some people wallow in their suffering.  You know the Eeyore syndrome?  That’s when, instead of sitting in the suffering and listening to what God might want to teach us, we have a pity party.  Poor me.  We followers of Jesus should not approach suffering like Eeyore.  Instead, Peter says, we should have the attitude of Jesus, to follow God’s will no matter the difficulty.

Can we experience Jesus’ victory now…or do we have to wait till we get to heaven?

24 Aug

What is heaven like?  There is much speculation.  I wish the Bible was much more clear than it is.  Sometimes it talks about a supernatural dwelling place of God.  In the New Testament the word for “heaven” can also mean “sky”.  Is heaven up there somewhere?  But then other times the Bible talks about heaven as a new earth or new Jerusalem.

As we conclude 1 Peter 3:18-22, Peter tells us that Jesus is in heaven, at God’s right hand, with all other beings in submission to him.  Why is Peter bringing up this heavenly image?  Once again, as we have seen all week, Peter wants to encourage people who are feeling defeated that Jesus is clearly the victor, and in him they, too, can have victory.

At the time when Peter wrote, it is likely that they were not feeling all that victorious, considering the persecution they were enduring.

How about you?  You might not be feeling all that victorious either, but Peter wanted those Christians then to know, and by extension we can know, that there is victory in Jesus.

But note that Peter is not just talking about ultimate victory in heaven.  No doubt, he is referring to that.  Jesus wins.  In the end, Jesus wins.  There he is in heaven, the victor over all!

But Peter is writing to Christians feeling defeated and discouraged in their actual lives. He wanted to encourage them in a way that mattered not only in a distant future, but also so that they could experience victory right then and there.  They were not alone.  They had power in Jesus.  Jesus had suffered too.  They were not forgotten.  They were remembered.  And they had access to the same strength Jesus did.

Our oldest son is in the National Guard.  For his extended drill this summer, his unit went to an intense training center in California.  It’s been 118 degrees most days.  He is in full battle gear, there are long, exhausting days and hot nights.  For the past 2 weeks he and many others were out in the desert.  So no access to phones (meaning…no connection to home), faced with rough terrain, practicing difficult intense drills and so much more.  After that two weeks in the desert, they returned to base for at least another week and they got their phones back.  Our son texted us saying those weeks out in training were the toughest things he’s ever done in his life.  Tougher than basic training.  And then he went on to tell us how much he’d grown and how much God had taught him.

That’s victory in Jesus.  That is finding God in the midst of difficult discouraging times.  That is what we have access to, a living God who is making things new in us and in our world.  We get to be a part of that.  A part of His living and breathing victory.  That is what Peter is talking about.

So we need to see that Peter is talking to people about how to live life now.  We can experience victory in Jesus now.  Remember that a major emphasis of Jesus’ death and resurrection is God setting things right.  The power of God that raised Christ from the dead that is available to us, as Paul teaches in Ephesians 1:15-19. Take a moment and read that.  Did you read how God’s power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us?  Amazing!

The big question, then, is how do we access that power?  For our son in the desert, he accessed that power a couple ways.  Prayer and reading about Christians who he looks up to.  He took a couple biographies of Christian athletes and read and was greatly encouraged.  Part of what made prayer and those stories of Christian faith so powerful was that Tyler was right in the middle of something extremely difficult.  And right there found victory in Jesus.

If you are going through a hard time, and even if things are good, how will you reach out to God to access the victorious power of God?  I highly recommend prayer as a starting point.  But also read the truth of God in his word, seek out stories of other Christians and how they placed their faith in God.  Then consider bringing other Christians into your own story.  Share your struggles, allow others to speak truth to you, and practice living out victory in Jesus.

Can a mysterious Bible passage help those feeling defeated in life?

20 Aug

Photo by Ian Espinsoa on Unsplash

Are there any areas of life where you just feel defeated?  Work?  Parenting?  A relationship?  Finances? Health?

Think about the last few weeks or months.  How has it been?  Do you ever feel like the waters are rising up around you?  Like you are drowning?

Sometimes I think life can be a journey in managing disappointment.  Why is it that the bad times seem so much more powerful than the good?  When a good thing happens, we are joyful, but it can seem like we need 10 good things in a row in order to offset the pain and disappointment of just one bad occurrence.  Know what I mean?

I’ll give you a personal example:  I am about to start studying for my doctorate in our seminary’s new Doctor of Theology program, and specifically in the leadership track.  If I submit a research essay, even if I get an A on the paper, if the professor makes critiques, guess what I will be dwelling on?  The A?  The good comments?  Nope.  I will dwell on the places the professor thinks I could have done better.  Those will fill my mind.  Sometimes I can obsess about the negative to the point where even if I got a good grade, I feel like I failed.  Defeated.

Those feelings are a common life experience for just about all of us.  The pressures of life these days are high.  Maybe it is a bad review at work.  Maybe it is when your kids were disobedient and you feel like it must be your parenting fail.  I get it.  Maybe it was one of those weeks when multiple appliances, or cars, or computers, or stuff breaks all at the same time.  Do you feel defeated today?

How can followers of Jesus deal with feelings of defeat?  I think Peter tries to answer that question in our next section of 1 Peter.  1 Peter 3:18-22.  Before we look at Peter’s thoughts, I want to introduce this section.

Do you remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned the Apostle’s Creed?  That post talked about 1 Peter 3:8 where Peter says, “live in harmony with one another” and goes on to describe the unity that the church should have.  A foundational question is “to achieve unity, how much does a church family need to agree on, and is it okay to disagree?”

So we talked about this phrase “in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”  That phrase serves as a guide to help us think through how much we should agree on, and how to disagree.  It says that we should be unified on the essentials.  What are the essentials, though?  What are those teachings or doctrines or beliefs that we should be unified about?

I suggested that Christians from the very early years of the church rallied around a common creed called The Apostle’s Creed.  In this short statement we find the teaching of the apostles condensed into something that we believe Christians should find as essential.  And this is why many churches say the Creed every week.

In our Faith Church hymnals, The Apostle’s Creed is printed in a section with other creeds.

Right below the Apostles Creed we find the Nicene Creed.  It is also a very ancient creed. The general consensus is that the Apostles Creed is the oldest creed, and as time went by the leaders of the church wanted to clarify some things the creed said Christians believed.

Compare the Nicene Creed with the Apostles Creed, and the Nicene Creed is much longer.  There was a general church conference that took place in the year 325 AD in the city of Nicaea.  Christians leaders and thinkers from all over were invited to that conference, and they debated many different topics, eventually leading to the publication of the Nicene Creed.  The Nicene Creed is not only longer, but also different from the Apostles Creed.

It is one of those changes that I want to point out.  The Nicene eliminates a phrase from the Apostle’s Creed: “he descended into Hades or hell”

Why would the Council at Nicaea want to get rid of that?

Consider what the Apostle’s Creed says: “Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried.”  We understand that.  Very common, well-established in the Gospel accounts.  But why does the Creed say next that he descended into hell?  Does it come from the Bible?

Now we can look at 1 Peter 3:18-22.  Please read that.

Now do you see why the Apostles Creed says “he descended into hell”?   No, yes, maybe.  Well, look at verse 18.

In tomorrow’s post we’re going to look more in-depth at verse 18, but for now I want you to simply see that this is a pretty standard description of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  It takes you back to Good Friday and Easter.  The story we tell every year.  Jesus was arrested, tried on false charges, convicted, beaten, and crucified.  There on the cross he died, they took his body down, and they buried him.

Three days later he miraculously rose again by the power of God, and he lives.  That’s verse 18.  In just a few words, Peter has reviewed the story that is foundational to Christianity. Jesus died for sins and rose again to bring us to God! Amazing!  This is good news!

But look at what he says in verses 19 and 20: he, Jesus, preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago in the days of Noah?

Do you know what Peter is talking about?

This is considered to be one of the most difficult passages in the entire New Testament.  There are many theories trying to explain Peter’s cryptic, mysterious words.  I thought about doing a survey of the three main theories, but instead I am going to take the advice of one of the scholars I read and focus on what I believe is the best way to understand Peter’s teaching.  I think you’ll find Peter’s words have wonderful encouragement for those who are feeling defeated.

Tomorrow we dive in.

What to do when talking about faith is scary or difficult

8 Aug

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

Have you ever been made fun of for your faith?  It can feel awful, making you want to crawl into the closest hole and hide.  That feeling of shame is often so powerful that it gets stuck inside us, and we fear talking about our faith ever again.  What should we do about this?

Instead of responding negatively, Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15 we should, “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.”  This is crucial.

I was convicted about this idea this week.  I would say I try to set apart Christ as Lord, but it hit me, how often do I talk about Jesus?  We talk about what is important to us. We’re excited about it. I’m in week 11 of 18 training for a marathon, so I have been talking about running a lot lately.  Mostly it is complaining about being tired, hungry and sore all the time.  Here’s what convicted me: I say Jesus is way more important to me than running, yet I rarely talk about him.  How about you?

Peter says in verse 15 that we should always be ready to talk about Jesus.  “Always be ready to give an answer to those who ask you to give a reason for the hope you have.”  When you have set apart Christ as Lord, when you are in close relationship with him, thoughts about Jesus will be filling your heart and mind, and you’ll be ready to talk about the hope you have in him.

Will people ask about this hope, though?  Peter says we should be ready when people ask us to give the reason for the hope we have.

Peter is not just saying we need to wait around and be quiet until people ask that specific question.  He is talking more broadly.  He is talking about being prepared to share the good news of Jesus at any time.  That would apply in many different situations.

Also, I love that Peter talks about the hope we have.  Peter’s is a wonderfully positive model for how we should talk about Jesus.  Think about it: we believe in good news!  “For God so loved the world!”  And because Jesus gave his life on the cross for the sin of the world, and then rose again to new life, God wants all to have that same new life, both now on earth and in heaven, when we choose to believe in him and follow him.  That is hope!

How about you? How did you come to know that hope?  One practical beginning step is simply to tell your story.  Get the details down.  Write them out or type them.  Or maybe you prefer talking.  Meet up with a trusted friend or spouse and share the story with them.  A great way to “always be ready” is to first become familiar with your story of hope in Jesus, and writing it or talking it out with a friend can really help.

Then look for ways and places to share it.  Always be ready.  Of course Peter is not talking about blurting it out in every single conversation or encounter you get into.  But we do need to be ready.  As I said before, in a culture where hardly anyone will ever ask, being ready can mean actively looking for ways that our story of hope will fit into a conversation.  When Jesus is Lord of your life and you have an active, thriving relationship with him, conversation about him will naturally and joyfully flow out on a regular basis.

Are we doing this?

For those of us at Faith Church, our denomination’s name is Evangelical CongregationalEvangelical is a word that has taken on a very political difficult meaning over the years, and that’s why we removed it from our church sign last year.  But historically, evangelical means “to proclaim good news.”  That is a huge part of the mission that God has given to us.  We are people who proclaim the good news about the hope we have in Jesus.  That is what Peter is talking about here.

We Christians are people who believe the good news about Jesus, and then have chosen to follow his way for life.  We have hope of new life!  So again I ask, are we talking about the hope we have?

At at recent meeting, I asked a small group of people from my church what they thought about how people in our church family are doing sharing the hope we have on an individual basis in our community.  The general consensus was that we could do a better job.

Of course, there are roadblocks that deter many of us from telling our stories of hope.  Fear of wanting to say the wrong thing, fear of wanting people to get the wrong impression, fear of ridicule, fear of being unprepared

But Peter says in verse 14, “Do not fear!”

I am convinced in my own life, that I need to be more vocal.  I would say that I am ready to share the words.  But if I am ready and never actually share the words, what does that say about me?  I will admit to fear.

Do you need to be more intentional and proactive in telling the story of the hope you have in Jesus?