In today’s verses the writer moves from husband and wife references
in verses 1-7 and entire household references in verses
8-12 to the entire community. Verses 13-17 challenge readers to
strive for good in the midst of trouble, disaster, and distress.
According to verse 14, you are “blessed” even if you “suffer
for doing what is right.” The writer seems to reiterate Jesus’
teachings in Matthew 5:10-12. And these words seem like a paradox
to us—how can we be happy or delighted to be suffering?
We naturally respond to difficulties by feeling unhappy and
unfairly treated. But in verse 15 the writer challenges us to move
beyond our “poor me” attitude to worship and communion with
Christ. That worship occurs in the heart, independent of any
building or visible objects.
Just as Christians in that day and time felt persecuted by a
culture that viewed Christianity with a suspicious eye, we face
similar attitudes today. But the consistency of a relationship
with Christ can put to shame any detractors who attempt to
In the early 1990s I made three trips to Romania where I
trained a group of individuals who were developing and publishing
Christian curriculum materials for use in churches. Still
fresh in the hearts and minds of these individuals were examples
of what it took to develop and maintain a personal faith
through the years of Soviet rule. I may have had “the answers”
about writing, editing, and publishing curriculum materials,
but these persons had “the answers” about keeping the faith in
the midst of adversity. One phrase in verse 15 stands out as part
of what enabled these Christians to survive their culture and
environment—“in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord.”
How can I daily “sanctify Christ as Lord” as I face life’s difficulties?
The psalm and the Acts reading address the ways in which the concrete faith claims of the community have credence outside that community. They undertake to make the faith credible to outsiders. On the basis of personal testimony, the psalm invites the nations to share in the new life given by God who has saved. Paul makes concrete confessional claims about Jesus in response to the religious inclinations of his Hellenistic listeners. The Gospel and epistle readings focus on the needs of the church community and seek to offer pastoral consolation. The psalm and Acts readings are a “journey out” to the nations and to attentive nonbelievers. The Gospel and epistle readings are a “journey in” to the life and needs of the church.
• Read Psalm 66:8-20. Recall a time when God did not let your feet slip.
• Read Acts 17:22-31. What are your unknown gods? What are your known gods that become idols in your life? How do they affect your relationship with the God who made the world and everything in it?
• Read 1 Peter 3:13-22. When have you suffered while doing good? What did you learn about God? about yourself?
• Read John 14:15-21. How have you experienced the Advocate’s companionship and guidance?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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