It’s an interesting time to be a Christ-follower. Many preachers and teachers contend that our faith and our values are under attack. And while I think there’s a meaningful debate to be had as to whether these “attacks” represent a concerted effort to eliminate faith —or are simply our sense of grievance at no longer enjoying a position of cultural privilege — there seems to be little doubt Judeo-Christian assumptions are no longer given the unquestioned allegiance that they once were.
This brief blog post really isn’t the appropriate setting to reflect on why this change has taken place. I will note in passing, however, that our own failure to live by the values we espouse may be a significant factor. I came across a satirical news report the other day in which a survey of Christian voters revealed that most would vote for Satan — as long as he claimed to support the “correct” position on a few key issues. And while the article was completely tongue-in-cheek and a bit over-the-top, I can’t always avoid the uncomfortable feeling that there might be a grain of truth in it.
Having said all that, I think it’s important to remember that ours is not the first generation of Christians to face opposition and scorn from the culture around us. If anything, the believers to whom the Apostle Peter wrote his epistles had it far worse. And yet, he does not call them to organize acts of resistance or to speak out forcefully in defense of their rights. Instead, in today’s New Testament lesson (1 Peter 2:11-25), he calls them to live lives of such humble goodness that the surrounding world can’t help but acknowledge the glory of the God who makes such living possible.
Here are some of Peter’s exact words:
- “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.” (v. 12)
- “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority…For it is God’s will that my doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.” (vs. 13, 15)
Of course, some would object that such a passive approach would allow the culture to walk all over us and would only accelerate the decline of the values we cherish. And let’s be honest, that might be true. However, since when was it the goal of the Christian faith for us to maintain our grip on the levers of political and cultural power? Perhaps we need to remember the admonition that Peter goes on to give: “If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.” (vs. 20-21)
What if we thought about it like this? Today, we’ve been given the opportunity to live lives of such grace and compassion and holiness and trust in God — lives, in other words, of such Christ-likeness — that even our detractors are forced to admit: “There’s something beautiful in a life like that. And if that’s who God is, then I want to know Him.”
May the beauty of that humble goodness shine out from our lives today — like a light in the darkness. And may the world see in us the “winsome beauty” of the Savior we so desperately need.