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Pastor's Column 7/17/22

PASTOR’S COLUMN

“But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone ask about your Christian hope, be ready to explain it.”

I Peter 3:14-15 NLT

“Live and Speak Your Hope!”

Peter’s instructions to a young, persecuted Church trying to gain its footing in a Roman dominated world, was bold and challenging. In a society that prided itself on patriotism and allegiance to the emperor, Christians lived differently. They did not believe in merciless killing of others for the sake of national aggression and hegemony; so, they refused to be forced into the military. Christians would not worship in the national shrines that paid homage to the Roman pantheon of gods and goddesses. For them, Jesus Christ was Lord, and to Him only would they bow their knees! The Romans had long coined the phrase, ‘There is but one god and he is Caesar.’ In the language familiar to the America nuance, these early Christians were “counter-cultural,” and “outliers.” They lived outside of the norm, simply because they answered to a higher tribunal than the Roman senate; Caesar; and the norms of that day. Peter, aware of and himself a victim of the consequences of their actions and inactions, admonished the faithful not to succumb to the threats and reprisals. The Christians were to live their lives, fully committed to Christ; His teachings; and to model His example. In contrast to worshiping Caesar, they worshiped Christ! As a bold witness to their faith, the Christians were told to “speak out and speak up.” They were to share the “hope” that their faith in and relationship with Christ gave them. In spite of their mistreatment, they were to be “gentle” in sharing their truth with others. These instructions are a good prescription for the times we live in. Despite the evil present, there is still reason for hope. To paraphrase James Weldon Johnson, “Sing a song full of the hope, the present [will] bring us.” Our faith will keep hope alive!

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