1 Peter 3:15-16 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
The English and the Japanese divide these two verses differently, but that’s no surprise considering Greek grammar and sentence structure. That’s just as well, because in English I hadn’t underlined verse 16, yet it is also important in our understanding of life in Christ. This starts out with what is perhaps the most important part of all, but which is omitted most of the time when this passage is quoted, at least in English. Having Jesus as Lord in your heart is the most important factor, bar none, in successful Christian living. Acknowledging Jesus as Lord in your heart is essential to salvation in the first place, (Romans 10:9-10) and it must be continued if we are to walk in Him. In America we tend to separate “accepting Jesus as your Savior” and “making Jesus your Lord,” saying that the first is salvation and the second is sanctification or spiritual growth. That’s a theology that can’t be found in the Bible! The Japanese term for “Savior” is literally, “saving Lord.” However, just saying the words isn’t sufficient. Jesus Himself said, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) He followed that up with His famous parable of the wise and foolish builders, (Luke 6:47-49) telling us clearly that empty words are just that, empty. All of that of course calls to mind James’ famous admonition: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22) With that foundation, Peter tells us that people are going to want to know what makes us tick, because our lives are going to be different from theirs, filled with a hope that they want but don’t have. He says a little later on, “They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.” (1 Peter 4:4) Here he tells us that if we humbly walk with Jesus as Lord, they will be ashamed of how they have treated us. There’s a very good chance we can lead them to the Lord as well!
I had been concerned as to what the Lord wanted me to speak on Sunday, and now I know! We will have the joy of baptizing the husband of one of our strongest church members on the 23rd. He has come to faith precisely because of what is laid out here. His wife had a period of years of severe clinical depression, but is now one of the most faithful, hopeful, disciples of Jesus Christ you could find. He, on the other hand, tried to find his hope in alcohol, and of course that didn’t work. He’s dry now, and he has finally worked up the courage to be public about his commitment to Christ. This is the sort of thing I have prayed and worked for throughout my ministry, and it is a powerful reminder that God is indeed faithful. I must never be distracted by circumstances, but allow my own fixation on the Lord Jesus to carry me through everything, for the blessing of many and for His glory.
Father, thank You indeed for all You are doing. I pray that every member of this church would overflow with Your hope because of their commitment to Jesus as Lord, acting as irresistible magnets to those who know them, drawing many into Your kingdom for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!