Daily Readings & Thought for June 13th. “ANYONE WHO ASKS YOU …”
The 3 short chapters we read in 1 Peter today contain a whole range of thought provoking points most of which we can apply to the situations which now surround us when so many no longer believe there is a God. Peter reasons with believers, “who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?” [3 v.13]. Let us be zealous in this way, not just inclined toward the good way of living.
Peter tells them, “…. In your hearts regard 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” [v.15] But in what spirit do you make this defence? Peter says, “do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience …”[v.16] Later he makes the point, “ … they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you, but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead.” [4 v.4,5]
Dead in what sense? Consider what Paul told the Ephesians, “And you were dead in trespasses and sins ….But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses made us alive …” [2 v.1,4,5]
May it yet be the case that some will wake up to the folly of “living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies …” [1 Peter 4 v.3] and look for real meaning in their lives. Peter was obviously conscious of the prophesied end of the Temple; on the Mount of Olives Jesus had said, “the one who endures to the end will be saved.” [Mark 13 v,13] and spoke a parable about calling labourers even “at the eleventh hour” [Matt 20 v.6]
Peter knew the end of the Temple must be near, but no one knew the time when Christ would come, that was almost the last point Jesus had made (Acts 1 v.6,7) before ascending to heaven. Peter knew that for Jerusalem, “the end of all things is at hand’ – so he told them “be self-controlled and sober-minded …Above all, keep loving one another earnestly…” [4 v.7,8] When all that seems stable in life starts falling apart, how much will believers need one another! Peter adds, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you … but rejoice insofar as you share in Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” [4 v.12,13].
The chapter ends, “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly … Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” Part of that “doing good” is ”being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” as labourers in God’s vineyard at “the eleventh hour”