Hope in Jesus on Display | 1 Peter 3:8-17

1 Peter

Oren Martin walks us through 1 Peter, giving evidence for why relationships and suffering are primary ways we can share the gospel with others. Specifically, our relationships with believers, relationships with non-believers, and times of suffering need to be understood as opportunities to share our hope in Jesus Christ.

Oren MartinMar 19, 20231 Peter 3:8-17

In This Series (13)
When Life Is H.A.R.D. | 1 Peter 5:6-14
John ElmoreApr 30, 2023
Who’s in Charge at Watermark? | 1 Peter 5:1-5
Timothy "TA" AteekApr 23, 2023
Trusting in the Suffering | 1 Peter 4:12-19
John ElmoreApr 16, 2023
The End Is Near | 1 Peter 4:1-11
Timothy "TA" AteekApr 2, 2023
What Christ Accomplished Through His Death, Burial, and Resurrection | 1 Peter 3:18-22
Blake HolmesMar 26, 2023
Hope in Jesus on Display | 1 Peter 3:8-17
Oren MartinMar 19, 2023
The Key to a Better Marriage | 1 Peter 3:1-7
Timothy "TA" AteekMar 12, 2023
God’s Identity, Calling, and Example for You | 1 Peter 2:13-25
John ElmoreMar 5, 2023
How To Find The Right Church | 1 Peter 2:4-12
Timothy "TA" AteekFeb 26, 2023
3 Indicators of Spiritual Growth | 1 Peter 1:22-2:3
Blake HolmesFeb 19, 2023
Battling Spiritual Amnesia | 1 Peter 1:13-21
Timothy "TA" AteekFeb 12, 2023
Praise in Present Suffering | 1 Peter 1:3-12
John ElmoreFeb 5, 2023
Remember Who You Are | 1 Peter 1:1-2
Timothy "TA" AteekJan 29, 2023

We are given many opportunities to display our hope in Jesus Christ. Those opportunities typically come from our relationships and times of suffering. Here are the three opportunities focused on in 1 Peter 3.

Relationships with believers are opportunities to display our hope in Christ. (1 Peter 3:8-17)

  • We must remember that we are a family united by Christ.
  • Affection for our brothers and sisters produces Christlike humility and compassion.

Relationships with unbelievers are opportunities to display our hope in Christ. (1 Peter 3:9-12)

  • We have motivation for pursuing unity in relationships, as no act of obedience will go unseen.
  • The gospel has the power to not only save us but to empower us to live transformed lives.

Suffering is an opportunity to display our hope in Christ. (1 Peter 3:13-17)

  • When you go through difficulties with unshakable joy and hope, people will be curious, and they will ask questions. Peter says that we should be ready in that moment to give the reason for the hope within us.
  • There are three kinds of suffering in the Old Testament:
    • Suffering for the consequences of doing evil. There’s no joy or blessing in this suffering. (Jonah)
    • Suffering for believing and doing good. This is Christ-like suffering that God uses to strengthen our faith and bring others to faith in Christ. (Joseph)
    • Suffering for no understandable reason, but we can rest assured that God is sanctifying us in the process. (Job)

Discussion and Application

  • Are you living a life that demands a question? How can your life look different than the world?
  • How can your relationships with believers and unbelievers display your hope in Christ?
  • If you’ve been treated poorly for being a Christian, how did you respond? How can you respond in a way that displays your hope in Christ?
  • Reflect on who you are now in Christ and what you’ve been set free from. Who can you share your hope in Jesus with this week?
  • Additional Scripture: Romans 8:22; Galatians 6:2; Ephesians 4:32; Matthew 5:11; 1 Peter 1:15; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 5:10; Romans 8:31
  • Additional Resources: Easter services at Watermark

Good morning, church family. It's so good to gather with you this morning. Please turn in your Bibles to 1 Peter, chapter 3. My name is Oren Martin. I serve as the senior director of equipping, and it is so good to be able to bring God's Word to us this morning. Let's pray together as we begin.

Father in heaven, what a privilege it is to be able to come to you. We don't take that privilege lightly. As we just sang, we don't come to you by our own merit. Nothing we can do in and of ourselves can earn your approval. We sin. We're sinned against and we sin in response. We fall far short of your glory. We have not loved you with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. We have not loved others as ourselves. We have not obeyed your commands.

The only basis upon which we can come to you and have confidence that you hear us is in and through our Lord Jesus Christ. Your Word says that the Word of God proves true, that you are a shield to those who take refuge in you. So I pray this morning that we would stand under your Word and that we would take refuge in you, that we would be reminded of the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians that we don't come to you boasting in and of ourselves; we come to you boasting in the only one who did for us what we could not do for ourselves, the one who has become for us our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification, and redemption.

So, I pray if there's anyone in here this morning who needs wisdom that you would give it, who needs righteousness that you would give it, who needs sanctification and growth in holiness that you would give it, who needs redemption that you would give it, and that we would trust in the one who has achieved that for us, your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. So, help us we pray. In Christ's name, amen.

As we begin, let me just give you the main point from the get-go. The main point this morning that I want us to see from 1 Peter, chapter 3, is that relationships and suffering are opportunities to display and proclaim our hope in Christ. So, let's read 1 Peter, chapter 3. We'll start in verse 8, and we'll go through verse 17.

"Finally, all of you…" Just to give you a clue, this isn't the end of Peter's letter. We're not finishing this week. Some of you were excited. "Hey, we're going to move on." No, we're not moving on. This is just the conclusion of this section of Peter's letter. If you've ever received a letter, and you think it's drawing to a close…

Maybe you listen to a sermon, and you think the preacher is drawing to a close, and then he gets a second wind. Well, Peter is going to get a second wind. We're going to keep going through chapters 3, 4, and 5 in the next few weeks, but Peter draws to a conclusion this section. "Finally, all of you…" Not just citizens of a government, not just husbands, not just wives…all of you.

"…have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For 'Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.'

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 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, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil."

Before we jump into this passage, I want to do a little thought experiment with you. Let's see how Peter, the author of this letter, measured up to his own words during the life and ministry of Jesus. Peter says, "…have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, [compassion], and a humble mind." Now, when you think of these virtues, this fruit of the Spirit, does Peter's name rise to the top as we think about the Gospels during the life and ministry of Jesus?

Unity of mind? I mean, after that amazing moment where Peter confesses Christ, the Lord, the Son of the living God, and Jesus blesses him for confessing his identity and takes that moment to tell Peter, "Now that you know who I am, let me tell you why I came. I'm going to suffer, and I'm going to die, and I'm going to rise on the third day," do you remember what Peter did? In that moment, he did not have unity of mind with Jesus. He rebuked him, to which Jesus responded and said, "Satan, get behind me." That doesn't sound like unity of mind.

What about humility? Think about John 13 when Jesus stooped down, the God of the universe who created everything, who sustains everything by the word of his power… As he stooped down to wash Peter's feet, what did Peter do? He didn't want him to do it. That's not humility, letting someone else serve you.

Okay. How about these words? "Do not repay evil for evil, but be gentle." What did Peter do when Jesus was arrested? Do you remember? He drew out a sword, struck the servant, and cut off his ear. Fail. "Have no fear of them, nor be troubled." How about that? How did Peter do? Well, think about it. As Jesus made his way to the cross, what did Peter do? The text says he followed Jesus at a distance because he was afraid of being associated with Jesus. Fail.

How about these words? "Set apart Christ as Lord, always ready to give a defense." Okay, here we go. He had the perfect opportunity. Someone came and asked him, "Hey, haven't I seen you with Jesus? Don't you know who Jesus is?" There it is, teed up. There's a pitch right down the middle. Hit a home run, Peter. What does he do? "I don't know him." He denied him…not once, not twice…three times. Failed again.

How in the world was Peter qualified to give these instructions to this suffering church, to these suffering Christians? Well, fast-forward from the Gospels into Acts. Who is it in Acts, chapter 2, who stands up and proclaims Christ in the face of opposition? It's the apostle Peter, preaching Christ, calling people to turn from their sin and trust in him.

Fast-forward to chapters 3 and 4. With all boldness they proclaimed Christ. Even though they were uneducated men, they were recognized as having been with Jesus, Acts 4 tells us. Later on in Acts, chapter 12, Peter is literally standing alongside James, the disciple of Jesus, the brother of John, and Peter watches James be killed for his faith in Christ and his witness of Christ. Peter literally stood there watching. And what did Peter do? He proclaimed Christ.

He was imprisoned, and when he got out of prison, what did he do? He proclaimed Christ. Christian tradition tells us that Peter would later on be martyred for his faith in Christ and his proclamation of Christ. Now, you might be asking, "What could make the difference? Why the change?" There's only one answer: because Peter met the resurrected Christ. Peter stood face-to-face with the resurrected Christ, and everything changed.

Now, as Peter writes to Christians scattered from their homes, as we saw a few weeks ago as we kicked off 1 Peter, to elect exiles, those who have been chosen by God in Christ, those who have been scattered from their homes and are suffering for following Jesus… Now Peter wants to encourage them with their hope in Christ.

We saw in chapter 1 that they were born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In chapter 1, verse 13, he calls Christians to set their hope fully on the revelation that will be brought to them at the coming of Jesus Christ. Chapter 1, verse 21, says their faith and their hope are in God. We saw last week, in chapter 3, how women who hoped in God lived out that hope in their marriages, calling on women in Peter's day to hope in God by living with their unbelieving husbands in ways that display their hope in Christ.

So, Peter, writing into this situation, has a word to say to us this morning, that we might hope in Christ and that we might find our hope in Christ no matter what comes. Now, a quick word on suffering. In Peter's context, we see that they were enduring suffering and persecution for their faith in Jesus. In Peter's time, when he was writing this letter, there was not yet… There would come, in a few years, government, state-sanctioned persecution of Christians. Here it was more local and sporadic, but persecution and hostility toward Christians was ramping up.

So, Peter was writing into a context where they were facing suffering. They were facing persecution for their belief in Jesus. We, in our context here in Dallas, Texas, may not be facing the exact same kind of suffering they were facing in their day, but Scripture also tells us that we can think of suffering more broadly. There's a spectrum of suffering. The Scripture tells us that we fight, that we battle, that we struggle in Christ against the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

We have a lion who is seeking someone to devour. He wants to bring you down, Christian. He doesn't want you to follow Christ. He doesn't want you to be a witness to Christ in your workplace or in your relationships or family. Romans 8 tells us that all of creation groans under the brokenness of sin…earthquakes and tornadoes and tsunamis.

Not just creation, but we ourselves, Romans 8 tells us, groan under the brokenness of sin. Our bodies get sick. We struggle with health. We lose loved ones. We're faced with death. Maybe even more so, we can be insulted even in our own context. We can be insulted with words because of our faith in Jesus. Maybe you have been in your workplace and in your family.

Maybe you've been ostracized, you've been made fun of, you've been excluded because of your faith in Christ and desire to honor him with your life. So, maybe we're not suffering injury like Peter's audience was. We all are experiencing suffering in some capacity as a result of living in this broken world as followers of Jesus, and Peter has something to say to us this morning. This is the first thing I want us to see from this passage.

  1. Relationships with believers are opportunities to display our hope in Christ. Peter begins by telling Christians to have certain things in their relationships with one another. He says, "…have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind." Many have noted there's a literary structure. You can even kind of see it in the correlation between words in this passage.

There's a literary structure in these five words. The outside words, unity of mind and humble mind, go together. They focus on the mind. The inner words, sympathy and tender heart, go together. They target the emotions. The central word, brotherly love (our affections), is right at the middle to show us it is the engine from which the other qualities flow.

We might think of it this way. Affection, love, for our brothers and sisters in Christ (that's why this phrase brotherly love…it's familial love…not just a generic love but a family love for our brothers and sisters in Christ) produces two things. First, it produces Christlike humility through which we lay aside our preferences to serve others and, secondly, this brotherly love produces Christlike compassion, mercy, through which we meet their needs. That's kind of how these qualities fit together.

It's interesting. If you think about those qualities…humility, compassion…these qualities aren't something we can conjure up on our own. These qualities, these characteristics, are actually fruit of the Spirit, something only the Spirit who indwells those who have put their faith in Christ and received him and follow him… Only the Spirit can produce these qualities.

In Matthew 7, for example, Jesus says a bad tree produces bad fruit, but a good tree produces good fruit. So, we can only produce good fruit of humility, compassion, sympathy, and unity through being connected to the Vine, Jesus Christ, and having the indwelling of his Spirit, who then makes it possible for us to have these qualities.

Now, why does Peter tell them this? Why does Peter instruct them to have these qualities in their relationships with fellow Christians? Well, because they were suffering. As we all know, hardships and difficulties can bear down and put pressure on relationships. When we're under stress, we can often lash out at others. What is Peter's answer to the problem? His answer is "Remember that you are a family. You are in Christ and, therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, members of one another. When one of you suffers, all of you suffer. When one of you rejoices, all of you rejoice."

Watermark family, do you know that we have more in common with each other by virtue of our common bond in Christ than with any unbelieving family member? We have more in common with each other by virtue of our common bond in Christ than any earthly relationship. That brings privileges. It brings responsibilities. It's why the New Testament is replete with commands to bear one another's burdens and to love one another and to speak the truth in love and to have compassion and to have sympathy, and all of the "one anothers," dozens and dozens.

It's why we take meaningful membership seriously. We all struggle. We all suffer in all kinds of different ways, and we need to be reminded of our hope in Christ. We need to be reminded that we are called to persevere as we walk in Christ and testify to Christ. It's why we prize verses like Galatians 6:2, that we are called to bear one another's burdens, because we need each other to run the Christian race to the end.

Do you see others who are hurting as obstacles to your comfort, obstacles and inconveniences, or as opportunities to show the compassion Christ has shown you? Ephesians 4:32 says to be kind to one another, to have mercy on one another, to look on others in their lowly estate and to have compassion on them, to help them. "Be tenderhearted, forgiving each other…" Why? "…as God in Christ has forgiven you." Do you get the connection? Have compassion and forgive because God in Christ has forgiven and had compassion on you.

To the extent that we know and feel God's compassion toward us in Christ will be to the same extent that we sympathize with and extend mercy to others. I mean, think about it. What difference would it make if we were driving in on Sunday mornings and came into this space with this question in our minds: "How can I love my brother and sister in Christ this morning? How can I help bear their burdens?"

During our time that makes us feel awkward, where we meet strangers behind us and in front of us and to our left and to our right, if we came in with the explicit intention of "How can I pray for you? How has your week been? Have you been struggling? Are you struggling to believe God's promises?" If we would pray, "Show me where they need encouragement. Empower me to encourage them with the hope-giving, grace-giving news of the gospel."

Watermark family, brothers and sisters in Christ, we must remember that we are family. When we fight each other, we're fighting the wrong enemy. We're not family by natural right. We don't lay claim to be part of God's family in and of ourselves, by our own merits. No, there's only one person who can lay claim to that by his own merit, and that's the Son, the second person of the Godhead, who is son by nature, God of God, true God of true God.

The Son who is son by nature has made you and me sons and daughters by grace. How did he do this? By humbling himself, by having compassion on us. He laid aside his preferences. Philippians 2 tells us that though he was in the form of God, though he was equal with God, he didn't regard equality with God a thing to be used for his own advantage, but rather he humbled himself by taking the form of a servant, by becoming man and dying on a cross, that he might bring us into the family of God.

So, we should come into these gatherings and come into our Community Groups with the explicit intention, by God's grace and Spirit who indwells us, to encourage, to speak words of grace, to get words of hope, to remind each other of the hope that is ours in Christ.

  1. Relationships with unbelievers are opportunities to display our hope in Christ. So, not only our relationships with believers, but also our relationships with unbelievers. Now, I'm sure many of you have encountered opposition for following Christ in your family, in your workplace, in your relationships. How do we respond when people ridicule or insult or shame or exclude or ostracize us for being Christians?

What does Peter say? Peter says to get even. No, he doesn't say to get even. Peter says to bless. It's hard to imagine Peter not having the words of Jesus in the back of his mind. "Blessed are you when others revile and persecute you on my account. Rejoice and be glad." He doesn't say, "Blessed are you when you retaliate," that you exchange words, that you get them back, that you make them feel small and guilty. No. He says to bless.

I love a good game of back-and-forth offense. I did not love Thursday night when my Aggies failed to go back and forth. That's the life of an Aggie. That's the life we're called to suffer. I love home runs. I mean, just goal for goal, home run for home run, touchdown for touchdown, field goal for field goal. It's amazing. It's exciting. Everybody hates a Super Bowl that's 3-0. It's boring. That back-and-forth is amazing. It's exhilarating.

But you know what? That's exciting in sports, but not in our relationships. The command is not simply "Don't get even." It's not just on the negative, "Don't get even." It's actually on the positive, to bless them. How do we bless others in the face of insults? By praying for them. By proclaiming the good news of God's grace that's found in Christ that found and saved us, that same grace that can find and save them.

It's by remembering and helping each other to remember that Jesus loved us while we were his enemies, that God demonstrated his own love toward us in that while we were still in our sin, Christ died for us. In fact, think about Jesus. As he's hanging on the cross, he's praying for his enemies. "God, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

It's not just Jesus. We see that. It's Stephen as he's being persecuted and killed, being stoned for his faith and proclamation of Jesus. What is he doing? He's saying, "Father, forgive them," as Saul stands on and looks approvingly as Stephen is murdered for following Jesus. You know what, friends? God heard Stephen's prayer because God saved Saul.

Then we see Paul in his life and ministry pronouncing blessings on his enemies, on those who persecuted him. Only the gospel can do this. That's why we need to remember and to help each other remember that in the face of suffering, in the face of hardship, in the face of difficulty, we can bless others.

Now, just as a sidenote, I do want to say that this verse and the ones from last week on marriage, particularly the instructions to wives, have been sinfully used to excuse abuse, but we must not make this application. Peter, earlier in the letter, clearly affirms the good and protective nature of government, and he tells us to submit to its authority. Part of obeying, part of submitting to the law of the land, is reporting abuse to our authorities.

So, we aren't just called to "Oh, just bear up." No. Report it. Get out of harm's way. So, these are two different issues. Peter is talking about people insulting you for your faith, shaming you, mocking you. Peter calls you and me to the radical life that follows in the footsteps of Jesus who, when reviled, didn't revile in return but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.

Why are we to bless? To answer this question, Peter quotes Psalm 34 in verses 10-12. He basically says we are to do this so we might enjoy the good life. To enjoy the good life is to pursue peace. We understand that just as a matter of living in this world, when we pursue peace with others in our relationships and in our workplaces, things generally go well.

I've never been in a job interview when the one interviewing me said, "Now, are you a person who creates a lot of conflict? Because we're looking for a person who is really combative, who really loves to stir up division and conflict. You're the person we're looking for." No. We want people who make peace. Right? It's generally, too, that when Christians pursue peace, when they seek peace, it generally will go well. These verses point in that direction.

The Lord's favor is on those who trust in him and live in peace with others. It says he will bless them, and that blessing will be enjoyed now. Why? What's the motivation? So that we might obtain a blessing. What is that blessing? Well, there are two parts of it. We have a blessing now. It tells us in verse 12, "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer." But there's also a future blessing: eschatological, future life in the very presence of God. So, God will bless us, and that blessing will be enjoyed both now and in the life to come.

Raise your hand. Who has watched the TV show Undercover Boss? A few of you. Do y'all know the premise of the show? Senior executives go undercover in their own companies to evaluate their business and employees. Now (don't raise your hand), would you work differently if this knowingly happened to you, if you knew your company's executive was coming in to work with you, alongside you? Would you work differently? I would say, probably yes.

Well, brother and sister in Christ, do you know that the eyes of the Lord are on you right now, when you go home, when you're in your workplace, when you're hanging out with your friends, when you're in your Community Group? It says, "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer."

Now, pay attention to this. Why are the eyes of the Lord upon us? To punish us? No. Is God waiting around the corner ready to zap us when we do something wrong? No. We might have that view of God, but it's a wrong view of God. What is it? It's to hear our prayers. His eyes of favor are on his children, on his sons and daughters in Christ.

He's there to see us. He's there to hear our prayers when we're going through difficulties. No act of faithful obedience goes unseen. No suffering is wasted. No gracious word spoken is forgotten, is missed. That brings blessing, enjoying the approval and the blessed presence of our Father. How can we do this? It's important to see again we can't do this by ourselves.

Did you notice those little words in verse 9? "…on the contrary, bless, for [because] to this you were called…" That's an amazing word. Peter actually has said it several times throughout his letter. In 1:15 he says you've been called from death in sin to life in Christ. Chapter 2, verse 9, says you've been called out of darkness into light. Chapter 2, verse 21, says you were called to follow Christ because Christ died for you. Chapter 5, verse 10, says you've been called into his eternal glory in Christ Jesus.

So, it's important to see that in his calling of you is the creating of new life that then enables and empowers you to bless. The gospel is not "Christ died for you. You're forgiven. Now go do these 10 things on your own." No. The gospel has the power not only to save us but to empower us and enable us to live transformed lives, lives that bless in the face of insult.

However, verse 12 says, "…the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." This tells us that for those who have not turned from their sin, who have not put their trust in Jesus alone to be the righteousness they need, to be the redemption they need, to be the wisdom they need, to be the sanctification and holiness they need, his face is against those.

Because he is holy and must punish sin, his face is against those who practice, who live persistently in evil, and that punishment will be for eternity. That is a weighty consequence to imagine. If you're here this morning, if you have not placed your faith in Jesus Christ to be what you need for you, then today you can do it. Today can be the day that you place your trust in Jesus Christ to become your righteousness. This brings us to our last point.

  1. Suffering is an opportunity to proclaim our hope in Christ. We see this in verses 13-17. In the face of suffering and the call to bless, Peter asks a question. "Who is there to harm you if you pursue what is good?" Now, imagine you're Peter's audience and you hear that. "Who is there to harm you?"

You're thinking in your mind, "Well, I can think of a lot of people. I just got persecuted yesterday at my workplace, ostracized and separated because I follow Christ. I've lost friends. I've lost family. My unbelieving husband or my unbelieving wife hates me. It has caused division in my marriage and hardship." You could rattle off all kinds of things if you were Peter's audience.

Notice the verb tenses here. "Now who is there [present tense] to harm you… But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed." In other words, Peter has the future in view. Yes, even though they can harm us now, we will be blessed finally. One of the early church Christians named Justin Martyr said, "You can kill us, but you cannot harm us."

This has the ring of Romans 8:31. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Who can condemn us? "If God gave up his own Son, how will he not also with him freely give us all things?" Who's going to condemn you? No one. Why? Because Jesus Christ died for your sin. Not only that. He rose from the dead. He's seated now on his throne, and he's interceding for you, and nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. In other words, nothing and no one can take away our hope in Christ no matter what comes.

Jen Wilkin says you can summarize 1 Peter in this way: we should be willing to suffer unjustly because Christ suffered unjustly to bring us to God. We'll talk about that next week. It's important to see that Peter describes three kinds of suffering in this passage, as seen in the three "Jos" of the Old Testament…Jonah, Joseph, and Job.

First, there's suffering for the consequences of sin. Think of Jonah. He suffered because he didn't trust in God and, instead, ran from him. I did a lot of this kind of suffering before I became a Christian. I suffered a lot for doing dumb things. That's not the kind of suffering Peter has in mind here. He has in mind this kind of suffering, the suffering of Joseph, suffering for believing and doing what's right.

He trusted God and his promises and accepted the consequences of doing such, and God used his suffering to save others, like Paul, who suffered in prison in Acts, chapter 16. God used his suffering to bring people to faith in him. The third kind of suffering is Job-like suffering, where we don't always understand the reason behind it. God changes us in and through it, but we don't always know what he's doing in the work. It's a mystery to us.

What does Peter say in response to Joseph-like suffering and Job-like suffering? Peter says we can pursue what's good and right and still suffer. Christian, we need to get rid of the idea that the Christian life is a happy, clappy, suffering-free life. This is not the kind of life Jesus lived. It's not the kind of life most Christians in the world live who suffer for their faith in Africa, Nigeria, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Turkey, China…you name it…the Middle Eastern, North African region. Last year alone, 2022, about 6,000 Christians were persecuted for their faith. Operation World, a great resource, tells us that about one in seven Christians in the world suffer for their faith.

So, we need to teach our kids to expect suffering in this life. If we teach them that if they do their part, then God will bless them and grant them wealth and everything will be smooth sailing, when they face hardship…when they don't get that job for standing up for what's right, when they're taken advantage of, when they struggle with health, when their marriage is filled with hardship, when death comes…they'll think, "God, I did everything right. What's wrong with you? I thought you loved me."

Our kids need to understand in moments of suffering that this world is broken and that Jesus suffered and died and rose again that he might strengthen us to endure suffering, to follow in his footsteps, as we await that blessing of glory and as we testify to his name of a suffering Savior who's triumphant over sin and death, and we can trust his promise that in light of eternity, this is light and momentary affliction, as Paul says, and God will work it out for our good.

Peter goes on to say that suffering is an opportunity to point others to Jesus. When you go through difficulties with unshakable joy and hope, people will be curious, and they will ask questions. These countercultural ways of living when suffering and hardship come, yet they see your consistent joy…not perfect but consistent joy and hope in Jesus Christ…they're going to ask, "Why are you different?"

In that moment, we can give answers. "Because I've been pursued and saved by and given hope in Christ." When people ask us, we can give the answer, "Because of Jesus, who he is and what he has done." Christian, are you living a life that demands a question? Perhaps no one is asking because our lives don't look any different than the world.

Perhaps you're sitting there thinking, "But you know what? I don't have the gift of evangelism, so I'll leave that to somebody else who's more eloquent with their words." Christian, you don't have to have the gift of evangelism. You don't have to have the gift of sharing the gospel to share the hope that is in you. You don't have to have the gift of eloquence to share the hope that is in you.

Yes, others may be able to share the gospel better than you, but no one will be able to share a better gospel. So drink deeply from the waters of the gospel, of remembering who you were in your sin, separated, alienated from God, by nature a child of wrath, but God in his mercy, with the great love with which he loved you and me, saved us. We've been united to Christ in his death and in his resurrection. We've been raised with Christ and seated with Christ, and we've been given an eternal inheritance, and the Spirit is a down payment of our inheritance to come.

Remember your hope in Christ that cannot be taken away. Listen to how Peter says to share it: with gentleness toward others and with reverence (or fear or worship toward God), having a good conscience. So, not only what we speak but how we speak in the moment, because the only offense we give is the offense of the cross, not our manner, not our methods, and not our motives. We are full of gentleness and respect because God has graciously given us what we don't deserve.

This readiness comes from a heart that is prepared because it loves and is devoted to Jesus Christ as Lord. So we set him apart as such, as the one who did for us what we could not do for ourselves. As we conclude, remember that, as Christians, we have been called to bless in the face of suffering. You and I will suffer in this life as a result of living in this broken world.

Maybe you're here this morning, and you're a Christian. You've placed your faith in Jesus, yet you come into this room, and you're hopeless. Maybe it's a health issue or maybe you've lost a loved one. Maybe you're facing difficulties at work. We want to pray with you. There will be people at the front as we conclude this service. There will be people down here who want to talk with you, who want to pray for you, who want to speak the truth in love to you, to encourage you, and to remind you of your hope in Christ.

If you're not a Christian here this morning, let me just say that we are so glad you're here. If you have not turned from your sin and have not trusted in Jesus, in his life, in his death, and in his resurrection that is able to save sinners like you and me, then you can do that today. Come down. We want to talk with you. We want to pray for you. Christian, remember, they can take a lot of things from us, but they can't take away Christ. Let's pray.

Father in heaven, we thank you. Thank you that in Christ you have provided the merit that we could not provide on our own. Our hope is not in ourselves. Our hope is in Christ who has become for us our righteousness, redemption, sanctification, and wisdom, that through faith in him we have received a righteousness that is not of our own but a righteousness that's from you because we have been united to the Righteous One.

Help us this morning know more deeply. Help us to be comforted by those words, that those who hear Christ's voice as his sheep are kept by the Shepherd, that no one will be able to snatch us from his hand. Remind us this morning of the hope that is ours in Christ. Help us to speak these words of life-giving hope to our brothers and sisters in Christ this morning. We pray these things in his name, amen.