The Heart of the Matter
13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
1 Peter 3:13-17
The audience in 1 Peter is a group of Christian exiles who are all over the world and these people have been persecuted and put through the ringer so to speak. The Emperor at the time was Nero and he was known for dipping the Christians in tar and using them as human candles to light the way to his palace. Needless to say, the Christians were going through heavy persecution and Peter writes to these people as an encouragement to stand strong in what they have been taught. In 1 Peter 1:3-4 Peter writes this, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” Peter is encouraging the people here that God has promised them an inheritance and says that he will follow through on that promise.
In Chapter 3 Peter discusses different things like husbands and wives but here where the passage comes to a climax is what I would like to call the HEART OF THE MATTER. The heart is widely considered the organ of emotion and the people are feeling the emotional weight of a persecuting culture. In verses 13-14 Peter is essentially asking what is troubling the people and the problem is that even though they are doing everything right, they are still facing tons or persecution and the weight is becoming too much.
One time when I was an RA at Liberty I saw a couple at convocation that was going back and forth and yelling at each other before convocation started. I could see that other people were staring at this conflict unfolding before our very eyes and I took it upon myself to confront the couple. It was obvious that these people were dealing with some major heart issues and they were going about dealing with them in the completely wrong manner. These people like those in 1 Peter were going through emotional turmoil and these were issues of the heart. However, do you see the transition between verses 14 and 15?
Gotcha there huh, the word BUT has a huge part to play in the transition from emotional turmoil to Peter’s point in this passage. BUT is a word of contrast and in this passage BUT is a word of hope. Peter turns the focus off their emotional turmoil and back onto their identity in Christ. The words “in your hearts” has the idea of a deep seeded inward confidence,” the people, as Peter discusses in chapters leading up to chapter 3, have a confidence in Christ that they can rest in and that is where this “deep seeded inward confidence” comes from. The fact of the matter is that these people have a deep emotional turmoil butting heads with the deep seeded inward confidence they have in Christ. The inward battle is raging and it all comes down to what is at the HEART OF THE MATTER. What do these people have at their core and is their faith in Christ enough to battle against this turmoil? When everything is stripped away, EVERYTHING comes down to you core or the heart of the matter.
The last verse essentially covers the fact that we have to stand strong behind closed doors because we cannot be ones who suffer for things they deserve to suffer for but rather things that other people find so right that it’s wrong. It is kind of like the story of Daniel who could not be found doing something wrong so some of the King’s men had a decree that made a religious practice of Daniel’s illegal. We must be people of integrity because God calls in so many passages to be above reproach.
Now as much as I realize this might sound a little preacher-esque I have three alliterated questions for you.
- What’s troubling you? (1 Peter 3:13-14)
- What are you rooted in? (1 Peter 3:15)
- What are you doing behind closed doors? (1 Peter 3:16-17)
When everything else is stripped away what is at your core, what is at the heart of the matter?
Posted on January 9, 2012, in Christian Living and tagged Bible, Christianity, Church, Church Ministry, Family Ministry, Heart, Pastor, Religion, Scripture, Student Ministry, Youth Ministry, Youth Pastor, Youth Work. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.