“And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” 1 Peter 3:13-15
There is a predictably one-sided and hysterical article that came out at HuffPo bemoaning the fact that Chick-Fil-A is still continuing in their “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior” by donating vast amounts of money to hate groups. Genuine shock and outrage that they did not receive the previous memo to abandon their beliefs has ensued. I’m not going to link to it this time, it’s too ridiculous and it’s easy to look up. The ‘hate groups’ that are referred to by the way are Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army, so there’s that. Without heading down a huge rabbit hole (or shall I say chicken), I want to use this as a little jumping off point to talk about this marvelous paragraph in 1 Peter about how we believers are to deal with the haters.
It’s a story as old as humanity itself, Peter is addressing his letter to Christians who are suffering persecution and rejection because of their obedience to Christ. Their contemporaries are shocked and a little insulted that these folks don’t still choose to run with them in the same sinful circles (4:4) as they once did. Peter urges patience and humility in the face of unjust persecution.
So he begins by asking the question, “who is going to harm you for being a follower of what is good?” The answer is clearly those who aren’t following what is good. Misery loves company… sin loves company… and when you choose not to walk in it or celebrate it, you become a natural target. The Chick- Fil -A debacle was a manufactured outrage from the beginning, a lose-lose battle for anyone holding Christian beliefs. As painful as it is, being a follower of what is good automatically makes you a target.
Peter goes on to say that even when we suffer for what is right, we will be blessed. The enemy will do everything in his power to get us to jump ship or join forces with the other side. The media is in an all out war against a chicken restaurant for heavens sakes, the likes of which you simply do not see with any other company. God says be blessed in the midst of it. Chick-Fil-A is closed on Sundays and still does better than McDonalds and Starbucks franchises combined. Obviously, something is working. We think we need to do things the world’s way to keep up and it just isn’t true. Honor God, honor His ways, and be blessed by being different.
The last few sentences Peter writes are powerful. “Be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…” Now honestly, how often is this happening? Do people see a hope in us that makes them genuinely want what we have? Or are we too busy fortifying our own little walls to keep everyone out? Peter is telling us we need to be shining examples of HOPE in a world gone totally bonkers. How do we do that? “With meekness and fear…” Meekness and humility are almost entirely extinct traits in our society. What if we could be settled in our beliefs, but still humble enough to want to share them with others? What if we could stand our ground against this anti-Biblical agenda that wants to erase truth, but do it in a way that our conscience is clear before God? That’s the ‘fear’ part right there…we have to fear God more than men. Chick-Fil-A, as a company, is doing exactly what we all need to be doing on a personal level.
“They think it strange that you do not run with them…” (4:4)
Let them. We have to be ok with this. Biblical love is sharing the hope and truth that is in us with others. It is not nodding and agreeing with sin so that people will like us. Peter and the early church faced persecution and so will we, and friends, Chick-Fil-A is the tip of the iceberg. I use it as an encouraging example to be true to God, serve Him, serve others, and let the haters dig their own proverbial graves.
Whats that silly internet meme? “Ain’t nobody got time for this?” That’s the truth.
Are people mad that you still haven’t caved to their demands that you embrace the world? It’s ok.
Are folks offended that you continue to believe what Jesus said even though their own modern-day analysis says you are a fool? Super.
We need not be afraid of suffering for what is right. Not ever.
Draw people with the hope that is in you, and do it with meekness and fear. The gospel has a beautiful way of proving itself true time and time again.