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[b]; do not be frightened.”[c] 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,[d] 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.[e] 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.
Do Not Be Frightened
What could cause fear to overshadow the true identity of an early Christian? Perhaps the prospect of being considered a fool because you believed in something other than the majority. Perhaps the breakdown in your family because you became a follower of Jesus and others did not. However, we must remember that the great danger that Christians faced in ancient Rome, was that they could be physically and sexually abused or killed. We, in the west, do not experience that kind of fear on a daily basis. For now, we have the freedom to worship how and when we choose (as long as it is not in conflict with the laws separating church and state). There are, in every culture, those who speak maliciously about Christians. I was slandered for my faith in my undergraduate school. The debate often degenerated into ad hominem name calling by the lecturer. I was afraid that if I wrote anything on a paper from a biblical perspective my grades would suffer. I remember a fellow student called Tim who included Bible verses in his papers and he got slammed.
Because we do not fear being dragged to our death, does that mean that there is no application of this passage for us? Whatever our circumstances we can consider the suffering of Christ and how he was focused on the future hope of resurrection. His future position is so elevated that it speaks to us of our true citizenship in ways that should help us persevere. What about our most common fears and anxieties, though?
We sometimes have a general anxiety that things are not going to go too well for us. We don’t feel accepted and we are afraid what others think of us. If we are angry or depressed, it is often in reaction to something that we fear. For example, I fear that I am not going to get a certain project done. I therefore give up and become depressed, or I fight it with an anger. In both cases a true cure would be to remove the cause, which is the fear. Fear is mostly about the future. Anxiety and nervousness are closely connected to fear. It saps our confidence and therefore our effectiveness. There are steps in a process to release fear.
- Talk to a Christian mentor openly about your fears no matter how silly they seem.
- Bring your fears to God and confess them.
- Visualise yourself laying your fears at the foot of the cross.
- Ask Jesus what fears you have that you have not dealt with.
Jesus, I have fears. Let me know truly what triggers my fears. Reveal to me the unresolved issues from my past and the important issues for my future.
- What should be the recipients’ attitude in the face of suffering?
- How does Peter suggest persecuted people combat fear?
- What should the Christian be prepared to do?
- How is fear the mind killer?
- How can you keep your mind clear so that you can make the most of every opportunity?