By Robert Halsey Pine
Can Peter possibly know what he’s saying? “Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called–that you might inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-22 NRSV).
The world can be confusing. These words from God through Jesus that Peter is telling us are contradicted by what we see all around us. There seems to be an epidemic of repaying evil for evil. We fear being perceived as weak if we take Peter’s advice here. When we truly turn to God we don’t need to be concerned with getting back at those who would harm us. Our purpose in life is to seek the Lord and bring others to Him. If we do this, we need not worry about our worldly challenges.
Peter goes on to say, “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.” He then reminds us, “For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit…” Our worldly victories will not get us into heaven. It is our victory in Jesus that determines our eternal future. We are not born for this life only, but for the life in Christ, which promises salvation and eternity with Him and the Father.
Peter asks us, “Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good?” And then he says, “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, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord.” The question is, “Can we trust the Lord?” How strong is our faith in Him? Are we embarrassed to proclaim Him? Our tendency is to apply our human rules and controls to our lives instead of trusting in the faith that we have inherited from Jesus, the Son of Man.
We must discover the power of love and humility through Christ Jesus. We were all created and are all called to be a blessing to the Lord and to each other. We must not confuse strength in a human sense with the strength that we have in the power of the Spirit. Thanks be to God that we can move mountains with the strength that He has given us. It is not a physical strength but a spiritual strength that we should be after. Joining together we can support each other and evangelize the world.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.