June 30 - 1 Peter 3:11

Sunday, June 30, 2013

They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.

Peter’s words are nearly an exact duplicate of Paul’s to young Timothy, “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).

Let’s put Peter’s words in full context, though.  He has just told husbands and wives how to treat each other and then says,

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:8-12, NIV).

In the last few days I have been on the outside of a couple of different conversations where those in the world attempt to denigrate faith and scripture.  In one, a person calling themselves a Christian (a bit of a surprise here), challenged a woman of faith regarding her belief that God was the Creator and that the Bible was the word of God.  My friend responded with a great deal of grace and wisdom, but the questions posed were simply to trip her up, not to engage in any real conversation.  There was a belief system already in place and no amount of Godly wisdom spoken in love and truth was going to make a difference.

In the second experience, a well-known scientist suggested that you might read the Bible “to learn that it’s easier to be told by others what to think and believe than it is to think for yourself” (Neil deGrasse Tyson).  Comments defending the Bible soon degenerated into an ‘us against them’ battle, with no one winning in the end. There were more than a few commenters who thought the Bible was a ridiculous book to put on a list of eight important books to read and some rather negative commentary, implied and stated outright, about those who might read it as part of their lives.

What are we to do in these situations? What would Jesus have done?

Well, Jesus spent a lot of time avoiding the actual questions posed to him by Pharisees, whose only purpose was to trip him up.  He had nothing to do with them.  He didn't find it necessary to defend God, knowing that God had plenty of power by which to defend Himself.  What Jesus did was to teach love … and peace.

There will always be those who want to bring rancor and disquiet to the conversation, but Peter reminds us to rise above.  God doesn't need us to defend His word. It has been here longer than any philosophical paradigm; it has been here longer than most civilizations. We can’t kill God and we can’t destroy His word.

What we can do is seek peace and pursue it. We are told to not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing … because it is the blessing of eternal life that we will inherit.

Live in harmony, be sympathetic.  Love, be compassionate and humble. Seek peace and pursue it.