There was a popular movie several years ago that revolved around a man who heard a voice that told him to build a baseball diamond in his cornfield. A statement from that movie is as well-known as the movie; "If you build it, they will come." A pastor friend of mine has his own version of this sentence with regard to getting Christians to come to an event; "If you feed them, they will come."
As you read through 1 Peter and come upon chapter three verse fifteen, it would seem that Peter had the same idea in mind. This verse tells us that if we have set Christ apart in our hearts as Lord, our lives are then lived in such a way that will get people curious. You could say that this verse conveys, "If you live Christlike, they will ask."
The verse actually reads, "But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord; Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:15). This charge was given to a people who were facing brutal persecution because of their life in Christ. They would never be able to endure faithfully unless Christ was Lord. Their hearts had to be wholly His.
As they set apart Christ as Lord, they had hope. Jesus was the reason for their hope. Indeed, He WAS their reason and their hope! That faith and hope could not go unnoticed. In their suffering, the fruit of the Spirit would be evidenced rather than bitterness and hatred. Their lives were so radically different from others that people asked them about it. Their responsibility was to be ready to give the answer to the question when asked. Their answer was simple - Jesus. The radical contrast between a Christian's life and those in the world is no different - whether under persecution or freedom. That is one reason why Peter elsewhere refers to Christians as "aliens and strangers." Christians cannot hide their life in Christ any more than a city on a hill can be hidden in the night. Jesus told us that we are "salt and light" in the world. Neither of these can be concealed.
There isn't such a thing as a secret disciple. It's not that we wear name tags or badges. It isn't the bumper stickers on our cars, or posters on our walls. It is our life - our actions, conversation, habits, work, lifestyle... It may not be visible immediately to everyone, but in the day-to-day routine, it will show. And what shows will generate a curiosity in others. The Holy Spirit intensifies the curiosity prompting them to ask us about the hope we have. We need to be ready to give the answer when they ask.
There is a great amount of discussion these days among church leaders about how the church can be more effective in reaching the unsaved. And so there should be. Going into the world to make disciples is the church's divinely-given mission and must be kept a central part of our worship. Many methods and programs, both to reach out and to motivate and mobilize people, are being suggested. But, amidst all the discussion let us not forget, that the most effective way to reach the lost is for God's people to live Christlike - "in their hearts setting apart Christ as Lord."
For, if we live it, they will ask!!!
"More Than Conquerors"
A conqueror is king of the mountain. The victor. We envision a conqueror as one standing atop a hill with head held high, sword thrust high toward the sky and his shout of victory echoing through the land. From our standpoint, the conqueror has achieved the ultimate. But, according to Scripture, a person can be more than a conqueror? Paul straightforwardly announces that in Christ we are more than conquerors over hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword. (Romans 8:35-37)
Some think that Paul was just being his flamboyant verbose self when he proclaimed this grand truth. Why? This truth would not need flamboyancy to make it forceful. We would be satisfied with being conquerors and the promise that we are in Christ is powerful in and of itself. But, the addition of "more than" reveals we who are in Christ are not to settle for being merely a conqueror. We are to be more than one! How? A careful reading of the verse within its context reveals that the question, how, is the wrong question. The verse is not a "how to" verse. It is an emphatic affirmation, "we are." It tells us why are we more than conquerors, not how to become so. Therefore, we need this passage to speak to us anew, allowing its abundant truth to sink deep into our hearts. Then we can begin living like people who are "more than conquerors," rather than a people just trying to make it through somehow.
We are more than conquerors because we are in Christ, who loved us! Paul was careful to use "loved" rather than "love," for by using the past tense he points to the cross. On the cross Christ showed us the full extent of His love, conquering sin once and for all! And there is nothing that can separate us from that love. For us the cross is the symbol of victory, for in Christ we are victorious.
Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, in his book, "The Mind Of Christ," puts it wonderfully; "We are tempted not tolive uprightly and cleanly in an immoral world; so God becomes our righteousness. We are assaulted by every sort of spiritual pollution that would corrupt our hearts and minds; so God becomes our sanctification. We are weak in the face of evil and liable to fall under the accusations of our spiritual Enemy; so God becomes our redemption. We can live victoriously day by day, because God continues to win the victory in our lives."
Second, we are more than conquerors because the very things that could defeat and destroy us, God transforms into things that accomplish His good. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and live according to His purpose." (Romans 8:18) Be sure not to define good from a human, earthly perspective. Doing so is a gross misuse of this great truth. Good for God's people is always to be understood from God's perspective. God alone is good and therefore good has to do with holiness.
It does not say that God causes all things, but that He uses all things for our good, for our holiness. We are not only more than conquerors over "these things," but in them and through them as well. The assaults, troubles, hardships, and hurts of this life do not have the final say, Christ does. "Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world." (1 John 4:4) And He is able to make all things work for good in our lives! All things!
With the quiet assurance that all things will accomplish God's good in our lives and the peaceful confidence that nothing can separate us from His love in Christ Jesus our Lord, we are more than conquerors! We are conquerors who humbly and readily acknowledge that we are so only in Christ, not by anything in ourselves. We are conquerors who do not lord it over others, but serve in Jesus name. We are conquerors who glory in Jesus Christ and Him crucified wherein our victory lies! We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus!
Ana & Andre Schoonbee
God uses us to motivate and encourage the body.
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