While walking with my high school aged daughter recently, she asked, “why are people seem so angry?” She could have been talking about either political persuasion, protestor or counter-protestor, or random social media comments. The word that came to mind is fear. Fear of changing times. Fear of being wrong. Fear of not being seen or heard. I also realize there is much more to anger than fear, but that idea came back as I read these words from 1 Peter.
13 Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? 14 But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; 16 yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:13-18)
In his book, The Good and Beautiful Community, James Bryan Smith, makes two points about this passage that we would do well to carry into our daily interactions.
- People want to know about our story (and we want our story known). Share stories about Christ’s impact on your life.
- Share your stories with gentleness and reverence.
Christians often come off as arrogant bullies, as if the ultimate strongman is in their corner. That’s not an appealing approach for anyone to hear your story. Gentleness, reverence and humility are far more powerful than angry Facebook comments. We are called to love our neighbor. That doesn’t come with an asterisk, exception or condition. We demonstrate love by hearing and seeing our neighbor. Hope abounds, so let’s account for it and share it.