The following is an edited transcription of the audio.
How is our hope evident to others?
This question is absolutely crucial for Americans to ask themselves especially, because Christians here aren't being persecuted or suffering very much.
I think the main reason people ask for an explanation of our hope is because, though we are losing something or suffering something, they see that our joy is not collapsing. They look at a Christian's life that appears sacrificial or seems to be suffering or persecuted and they see a person whose heart is full and overflowing with joy in God in spite of that loss. Then they compute, "Now if I lose my health, my esteem in the community, or my security for the future, I get mad or depressed. So this person must be hoping in something different than what the world offers. I will ask them."
People ask us about our hope when they see us in crisis, suffering, loss, persecution, or rejection where we have maintained our hope, faith, and love. And they're perplexed at where our strength is coming from, because, as far as they're concerned, our future looks very bleak.
That is when we can say, "No, my future is not bleak, even if I have cancer, or just lost my job because I witnessed to my friend, or just lost a child. That's because God works all things together for my good. He is infinitely sovereign and loving, and my hope is in him. And all that was bought for me by his Son's death...may I share that with you?"
I think that is the whole point of the passage surrounding 1 Peter 3:15.
Could you pray for us, that such hope would be true and visible in our lives?
Yes. Let's pray.
Father, I pray not that we would seek persecution. We don't need to do that. But I pray that we would seek to love and to serve and, if necessary, to sacrifice in order to display the goodness of yourself to other people. I pray that we would open our mouths and commend Christ to as many people as we can.
I pray that we would remember the poorest of the poor in the world and make efforts to reach them with practical help, which might cost us something.
I pray that we would be willing to go to the hard places or make the hard phone call or do the hard confrontation so that others can see that our joy does not rise and fall with the loss of some convenience or the loss of some comfort or security.
Lord, root our joy so deeply and firmly in yourself and your promises that we can
let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also,
even the body—if they would kill it—and not lose our joy. And then put it in the hearts of the world to say, "What are you hoping in, if its not in these things that you've just lost?"
So grant Lord, I pray, that we would savor you so deeply that we could live these kinds of lives of love.
In Jesus' name, Amen.