The Christian Lifestyle:I Peter 3:8-15


Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble. Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing. For: “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep the tongue from evil and the lips from speaking deceit, must turn from evil and do good, seek peace and follow after it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears turned to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against evildoers.”  Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.

All of you, be of one mind… is this such a tall order? Doesn’t Peter understand, this is to idealistic? I mean come on, it sounds good but it isn’t very practical. What does he mean all of you anyway?

Many say it is idealistic, that this kind of church can not exists. But it can….and it does. Certainly, in writing this letter, Peter thinks back to when Jesus told him, face to face, “upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” Meaning that the Church itself isn’t just a human institution (as discussed last week) but that it was created by God Himself. I’m sure his memories also turned to the early days of the Church, as everyone was of “one heart and mind” (Acts 2:44, 4:32) knowing this is the way it was intended to be done, that it can still be done and must be done this way, in order to please our Father. If you look objectively at history, you will see this is the way it was done until 1517, when this “oneness” this “unity” was ruptured, and remains ruptured to this day. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it this way in paragraphs 811-813:

“This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic.”These four characteristics, inseparably linked with each other,indicate essential features of the Church and her mission. The Church does not possess them of herself; it is Christ who, through the Holy Spirit, makes his Church one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, and it is he who calls her to realize each of these qualities.Only faith can recognize that the Church possesses these properties from her divine source. But their historical manifestations are signs that also speak clearly to human reason. As the First Vatican Council noted, the “Church herself, with her marvellous propagation, eminent holiness, and inexhaustible fruitfulness in everything good, her catholic unity and invincible stability, is a great and perpetual motive of credibility and an irrefutable witness of her divine mission.”

The Church is one because of her source: “the highest exemplar and source of this mystery is the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.” The Church is one because of her founder: for “the Word made flesh, the prince of peace, reconciled all men to God by the cross, . . . restoring the unity of all in one people and one body.” The Church is one because of her “soul”: “It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church’s unity.” Unity is of the essence of the Church:

What an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the universe, one Logos of the universe, and also one Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin become mother, and I should like to call her “Church.”

 

Being of one mind and all that entails [sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble. Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult] is what we, as Christians , are called to! If we are not living in this manner, how can this be pleasing to our Father?

By quoting Psalm 34:14-17 here, Peter reminds us that God’s standards for His children haven’t changed. He still requires us to turn from evil and do good to  inherit a blessing. In this case, our inheritance is eternal life in the presence of the Blessed Trinity, provided through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. Because you see, if we truly put our faith in Jesus Christ, we will live according to His commands (John 15:10,14). We maybe able to fool others and even fool ourselves – but we will never be able to fool God.

Peter then encourages us to continue living a righteous life (who is going to harm you) for even the pagan societies have laws, rules and order. Doing good isn’t just some abstract concept either, it’s required for civilizations and societies even cultures to survive. The point being that, if you are doing good things you are probably not going to suffer. But if you do suffer, blessed are you. I’m sure that Peter’s mind thought back to Jesus’ sermon on the mount, when He said, “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt.5:10-12).

So, Peter reminds us not to be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but rather sanctify [set apart] Christ as Lord [Master] in our hearts. For if Jesus is our Master, our lifestyle will show it. We are not called to “sin, so that grace may abound” we are called to let Christ live through us, in the power of the Holy Spirit, choosing to do good rather than evil.

So this week, let us live a righteous life before all people, doing good and seeking peace. There is nothing to fear, for God has promised a blessing to those who follow after Him in obedience as Lord of the lives.

Amen.

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