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 honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence 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 behaviour in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:14-17)
There are some really hilarious portions of scripture in the Bible, I main gut-bustingly guffaw-tastic places that will leave you wiping your eyes at it’s humour. This is one of them. I mean check what Peter is suggesting. He is suggesting that in the middle of suffering and getting it in the neck from people who mock and scorn the faith that we hold so dear our response to them should be a considered answer given with gentleness and respect. That’s just funny.
Or it would be if it wasn’t for the fact that Peter is being deadly serious. He should know as well. I’m sure he could recall the night when he was with his Master when He was arrested and rather than a gentle, respectful response one of the disciples chooses to react with chopping off an ear. Now this was no Tyson bite, this was a proper chop. To this day I wonder what that might have looked like in the heat of the skirmish. All I do know is that Jesus rebuked the violent offender and healed the ear of the man who had it chopped off.
There are lots of opportunities to get riled up at people’s ignorance or disdain to the faith. There are plenty of times when a swift verbal chopping off of someone’s ear seems the right response to their blasphemous remarks. Yet in a day and age where true reverence for God is minimal (although to be fair, when has it ever been really different?) our response is given respectfully and with gentleness.
This is by no means a soft-soaped approach that gives no substance in the message. Yet it is one that recognises at the core of all things it is never anything personal and it’s always something spiritual and what better way to respond to that than overcome evil with good. Always pointing out that the hope within us goes beyond what can be done to us in this life and seals our glorious destination once this life is over.
In fact it links rather neatly in the early stages of our study in the Sermon on the Mount as the eighth beatitude really hits home to those expecting a stress/hassle-free faith. Hard times and rejection are to be expected and to be seen as an opportunity to rejoice. Oh for the grace to trust Him more and live that out rather than a being a chop off the old block.
For His Name's Sake