– Francis Chan
Surprised by Your Life
I can understand where the Apostle Peter is coming from by writing how those we used to run with before Christ are now angry that we don’t run with them anymore. Peter wrote, “With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you” (1 Peter 4:4), but we must remember “they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5). So don’t get angry with them about how you’re turning away from sin and them; rather, pray that they too might be saved and escape the wrath of God (Revelation 20:12-15).
Friends With the World?
If people come up to us and say we’re really popular, we might start to examine ourselves. James would ask us, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). The fact is, “if you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). To be hated by the world is to be expected since “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). If you’re not hated by at least some unbelievers, something’s wrong.
A Clear Conscience
As we have read, the world’s going to be slandering you and speaking all sorts of lies about you. But that’s because they are convicted by our devotion to God, and it bothers their conscience. So we need to make sure our consciences are clear; otherwise, they might actually have accusations against us that are true. Peter reminds us of the importance of “a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:16).
Sweet and Sour
The Apostle Paul didn’t want the church at Corinth to miss the fact that we’re a stench in the nose of the unsaved; but for those who come to faith, it’s the most wonderful fragrance there is. Paul wrote, “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)? If we understand that we don’t make sense to the world, then it will not surprise us; but still knowing, we were no more worthy to be saved than they are. Even so, we are the smell of death to the lost; so let us point them to Christ for life.
The bottom line is something is very wrong if our lives make sense to unbelievers. It may mean we’re too much like the world. We cannot change how others think. Only God can change the human heart (Proverbs 21:1). So we must simply be “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” so that when they slander our name, “those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:15-16). I would rather suffer for doing good because “it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:17).