Jim Bergen, lead pastor at Flatirons Community Church, finished up 1 Peter 3 with this passage. “13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits — 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand —with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. 1 Peter 3:13-22
Jim made two significant points. One was on the verse, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.” He reminded us that heart in the Bible does not refer to the organ that pumps blood through the body, but to that which represent the core of our being. Who oversees that place where the core of your being resides? We often think it is us. We are the master of our lives. But the truth is that many things impact how we view our destiny and therefore our actions. One of them is a force of evil and generates actions that are self-centered and often cruel. The other is a force for good that helps us to be others-centered and compassionate, full of grace. Many thinks of Jesus as a person who was good because He did good things. They believe they can be good by just following Jesus actions with their own strength and resolve. Others believe the good things that happen, results from a transformed heart, because He sits at the place of leadership in the core of our being, the heart. I believe that because I knew who I was before and after Christ entered my life as Lord. I was one way before and one way after. Jim told of a story to which many can relate. He first began his Christian journey out of fear of going to hell. Later, as he walked with the Lord, his experience changed from fear to trust. I can certainly identify with that journey.
The core of his sermon centered on the question, “Why are you a Christian?”, based on the Peter’s exhortation, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Our walk with Jesus is more than a transaction of Christ on the cross dying for our sins. If that was all it was, that certainly would be more than we deserve. But it is more personal than that. He related the question to a story in John 9 about a man who was blind from birth and was restored to sight by Jesus. In this story the blind man did not know Jesus and would not have recognized Him because he was blind. So, his only testimony was, “I was blind but now I see.” So, the question, “Why are you a Christian” is a personal one. For me, it was a questioning person exploring whether Jesus was the answer to my messed-up life. First it was seeing a sudden transformation of a prison inmate, from a hater of Christians to a man sold out to Christ. Then I began more slowly to believe in Jesus to guide my life. My trust came more slowly. The inmate and I were both blind to the awesomeness of Jesus, but I gained my sight more slowly. Jesus knew that I could not handle full sight immediately. I trust slowly but when I finally get there, trust runs deep. I slowly began to see life through a different lens, and it was far better than it was before Jesus. I do not think I become more successful as the world measures success. But I began to build relationships that brought less aggravation and more love and compassion. I was able to give up presenting what I thought the other person would accept and began to let others see the real me. I was amazed they still liked me. Oddly, the last part I gave up was wearing a hair piece. Not that there is anything wrong with doing what you can to improve your looks. But, for me, it was hiding for fear that you would not like or respect me. My trust in Jesus led to greater trust in my friends to accept me with all my messiness. I found freedom in Christ I never imagined was possible. In turn, I began to love to hear of others coming to Jesus, drawn uniquely by the Father. It is still my greatest joy to tell the story of Jesus in my life and to hear from others, “Why are you a Christian?”