“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.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
I Peter 3:13-17 NKJV
In my past, I was derided for the many things that I did. I was sometimes referred to as difficult, as hard to deal with. Other less than desirable descriptions included more than a few swear words that I will not write here. I have to admit that I was a very bad person, with a razor tongue, and a total lack of empathy. There was plenty of things for which I deserved to be reviled.
Since I had my encounter with Jesus, much of that old man is long gone, and I am very much the antithesis of who I used to be. But, even though I have changed, I still find that I am reviled in some quarters, as I have changed from a man living in darkness to the new man walking in the light.
In the beginning of the change, those with whom I used to hang out, noticed that I was no longer the fun drunk, or the one with the naughty jokes. I had become a Holy Joe, bible thumping killjoy that no one wanted to be around. The Lord had begun to clean me from the inside out, transforming me into His masterpiece.
My communication became more deliberate, as I chose each word carefully, being aware of whose I was, and that I was no longer of this world. I came to realize that eternity hung on my words, as many people I encountered were making eternal choices each day as they consider the Gospel.
“Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
Colossians 4:5-6 NKJV
Along the way, I have lost many friends and acquaintances, as the changes being done in me have proved too much for some to bear. I think there was a sense of grief, as the person they once knew was dead.
The greatest test for the follower of Jesus comes when biblical belief collides with fluid societal norm, and the resulting conflict results in much derision, rejection, and sometimes, even physical attack.
As I read I Peter chapter three, I could find a great deal of application for the follower of Christ in the world in which we currently live. Our world is filled with upside down thinking, massive fluidity and an overwhelming desire to cancel anyone who has he audacity to not keep up with the times.
Brothers and sisters, let us suffer for doing good.
Often offenses are given in the hopes of bringing about failure, as people react negatively, thus casting shade on the message of Jesus. For many people, we are the Gospel message and how we behave is representative of the truth. In reality, they are correct.
Because we have been saved, we are new creations, souls saved from hell and being transformed. We must reflect the goodness of God in impossible situations. We must also show the hope that we have in Jesus, even when all seems to be falling apart. I suspect in the coming days, weeks and months, we have ample opportunities to demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian.
As a black man, living in a white world, I have been given great advantage, as my life has been lived with opposition, in the world, and even from the next pew. Through all that I have experienced, I have determined to represent my Savior. I endure humiliation with an eye toward the glory to come.
For others, not experienced in conflict, know that you have a Savior who has experienced it before you, and has overcome the world.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.””
John 16:33 NKJV
So let us go forth in the world taking the precious message of the Gospel, of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, of being buried, and how He rose on the third day. Let go with hope, with a radiance on our faces, as we are filled with confidence that have a God who hears our prayers.
“My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.”
Psalms 34:2-6 NKJV
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”
Psalms 34:8 NKJV