When I used to work in the mall, one of the ways I used to pass the time was people watch. I would sit in the little booth where I worked and just watch people go by, interact with each other and sometimes they would sit at the bench where I was and do the same thing I would do. I might say hello to a few of them, but most of the time it was just watching.
Over time, I would see the same people on a semi regular basis. Without ever saying a word to one of them, I was able to get a general idea of who they were. I would see things like did they help someone who was needing a hand with bags or look the other way and pretend not to notice. Did they pay attention to the ones they were with or simply wander around, acting like they didn’t exist. This was before the boom of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, so they couldn’t get lost in their phones (although Myspace was a big thing then).
What would I have learned about you by just watching you as you shopped? Would I have seen a kind person who is helpful and friendly to others? Or would I have seen someone who just has a big “do not disturb” sign over their head.
No matter how much we want to pretend people do not notice us, they do. Every day, hundreds of people take notice of your actions without ever speaking to you. It may be how your treat the barista getting your $4 cup of coffee, or how your treat the teenager serving you your Whopper. Every single interaction you have with every individual every day of your life impacts how people think of you.
All of this boils down to one word: Integrity.
The Apostle Peter knew this would be a very important personality trait for all Christians to have. He knew that those who were not in Christ would do everything possible to destroy this new movement at the time known as The Way. He had seen it firsthand with Saul. He has seen it with Stephen being martyred. He knew that as Gospel message spread further and further across the globe, those in Christ would face more and more persecution. So in his first letter, he writes these words:
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 relive your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:13-16, NKJV)
What powerful and impactful words! We know we are going to face persecution. It is part of being a Christian. But Peter is saying so what! Let them come after you, let them say whatever they want about you, because you see, your life is going to be known for so much good that even when they do talk about your, those they are talking to will not pay any attention.
Peter is telling us all that our lives should be so unblemished that when someone tries to slander us for our beliefs, others will just roll their eyes and walk away.
Peter also gives us the outline for what we should do when we are falsely accused of unfairly persecuted
Consider ourselves blessed
We must understand that our circumstance should not affect how content or happy we are. We should recognize and appreciate the blessings God has given us, even when we think we see our worldly circumstances as less than desirable.
Blessedness is fundamentally an element of God, and partaking in God’s nature through your relationship with Christ means you are partaking in God’s blessedness.
We know that we are going to be slandered and persecuted for the sake of Christ, but look at the Book of Job for guidance when it come to this.
Job 11:15 (NKJV)
If iniquity were in your hand, and you put it far away, and would not let wickedness in your tents, then surely you could life up your face without spot, yes you could be steadfast, and not fear.
In other words, the more we push away those things which are not of God and hold tight to Godly things, the more unafraid we will become of the persecution we face.
Worship Christ as Lord
Christ is in control. That statement is all we need to put our fears at ease when someone attacks us. Christ is in control, and as long as we stay in His will, we will stay under His protections. These protections might not be what the world sees as “protection” in terms of avoiding physical harm, but that is only temporary, out protections are eternal.
Be ready to give an answer for our hope
We can not do this unless we have immersed ourselves in the Word of God. We must be able to give a measure, biblical response to any temptation or persecution we face. Remember when Christ was tempted by Satan in the desert, every response He gave was from Scripture. We should be so in touch with God’s Word that we can do this when provoked or attacked. The Bible is full of this guidance.
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)
He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it (Titus 1:9)
Maintain a good conscience
This deals with the “inner” you. When you do something, do you feel right about it? Or do you have a nagging feeling that maybe it is not in accordance with the bible and Christ? See, maintaining a good conscience starts with knowing in your mind what is right and what is wrong, and then acting accordingly, which brings us to…
Continue in good conduct
Never give those who are slandering or persecuting you a reason to be proven right by their accusations. Our suffering should come from our obedience and faithfulness to God, not from our own actions.
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of the flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant (Colossians 1:21-23)
Look at 1 Peter 3:16 again
16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who relive your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
Look outside yourself one time and act as someone who might just see you at a passing glance every now and then. Maybe you see this person in line every day as you get your muffin and coffee. Maybe it’s someone you see on the elevator every day on the way to your office. Ask yourself, if that person heard something about you that was ungodly. If they heard you were involved in something that would just make your skin crawl. Just by the way you act around them for the little time you see them each day, would they be able to say “no way, they would never do that.” Would they be able to put to shame all those who talk about you and slander you?
One of the things we are a modern day body of Christ do horribly is uplifting fellow believers. We do not take into account the seriousness of how important it is for us to show the world the unity in Jesus we have. Have you ever sat back and listened to people talk about someone else? Or maybe you yourself have been guilty of this. We need to start helping others in Christ understand how important the perception they put out into the world is.
And looking at 1 Peter 3:16, we can see that perception is reality. Are we as believers truly helping those around us live out their life in Christ to the fullest. Are you striving to show others the importance of having their faith show. Not through being loud and obnoxious about it, but simply by letting the love of Christ shine through in everything we do.