Following on from last week when I was thinking about the importance of viewing the world rightly as hostile to and at war with the citizen of the now and not yet kingdom, in other words Jesus disciples, I've been think about some of the implications of this for evangelism and living.
The sort of suffering 1 Peter focuses on is malicious talking, or heaping abuse on believers because of their faith enacted. Peter calls on believers to respond not by adopting cultural camouflage and blending in with everybody else but he calls them to recognise that they should be being identified as different. It is this suffering that Peter calls them to respond rightly to by continuing to live gospel lives that will provoke hostility and in that face of that hostility answering peoples questions about why they live that way - not apologetically but gently and with respect - in other words not in a superior or bombastic manner but in a way that is gracious as well as with words that speak of God's grace. It is only if we understand the world is hostile that we will be able to answer that way
If we remember that the world is hostile to the gospel then we will not take that hostility personally and react as a cornered or wounded animal. Hostility to the gospel is natural, it is to be expected, it is a sign of the warfare we are engaged in, someones reaction to that is not a reaction against us but a natural reaction to the truths of the gospel. Often as disciples we forget the hostile nature of the gospel and gospel living. It confronts believers with uncomfortable truths; being good isn't good enough, there is a God to whom everyone must give an account of their actions, there is such a thing as truth, morality is not relative or in flux or deniable, you must decide what to do with Jesus Christ. When they see those truths lived out it confronts them with a reality they want to deny.
Soldiers in a battle are always alert, they keep their kit ready because they understand their need of it, their training is paying off. We must understand that we are in the front line so that we are ready and standing firm in the true grace of God.