THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
July 12th A.D. 2020
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and reverence.” 1 Peter 3:15
In the epistle for this morning, Peter is writing to churches scattered throughout the ancient world. And he gives to all the church throughout the ages a pattern of teaching, a way of life. This way of life is how ALL Christians should live, despite what type of government they find themselves under. It shows that our duty to God and to our fellow men never changes no matter how “good” or how “bad” the external situation is. Let us consider closely what St. Peter has to say through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, please listen carefully…listen closely.
“Finally be ye all of one mind [literally…think the same thing…the gospel of Christ is what unifies the Church…this should form all our thinking…this is the one thing that cannot be compromised…not diversity…not an emphasis upon difference…but unity in the gospel], having compassion one of another [to suffer with one another…Christians must be together], love as brethren, be pitiful […have bowels of compassion, to feel in one’s the guts, it is a powerful physiological reaction that moves one to pity and action…Jesus was moved in this way when he saw the multitudes as sheep without a shepherd ], courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; (Remember the words of Jesus “but I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”) Why ought we to behave this way…St Peter tells us…knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
Furthermore, St. Peter quotes Psalm 34 as the reason for his admonition to live this way…why should we live this way…For or because “he that will love life and see good day, let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips that they speak no guile…guile means crafty and deceitful ways of speaking. Christians must be men, women and children who are frank, upright, and straightforward in their speech. There “yes” must be “yes” and their “no” must be “no”.
Let him eschew (reject, shun) evil and do good; let him seek peace and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil…and then St. Peter asks a question.
“and who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? Who is going to punish you for being compassionate? Who is going condemn you for being peaceful? Reason should tell us that no one should condemn you for these things…however we are in a spiritual war…and we know that Jesus was the absolute perfection of all these things…and that he suffered unjustly to an infinite degree. St. Peter knows this so he goes on to address it. He says but and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy [blessed] are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; He echoes, once again, the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the mount. Our Lord says, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven.”
The epistle ends this morning with another command…when this happens, when you are persecuted for righteousness sake, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.” Hallow, set apart as Holy, the Lord God in your heart.
This epistle shows to us a few things about being first being good citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven and also how to live as good citizens of the United States of America.
The gospel calls us to act like Jesus, to follow in his steps, at all times and in all places. To suffer with Him…so that we may reign with him.
The testimony of our Christian past reveals to us that The Eucharist is essential…not an online service…not praying at home…but in person gatherings to worship Christ, not necessarily in the Church…but nevertheless in person…it was their treasure…their pearl of great price…and they sought it by any means possible…in the dead of night, in caves, in catacombs, in the desert, in foxholes in times of war…in the freezing gulags of Soviet Russia…at the risk of peril, danger, torture and execution…Through plague, pestilence, and famine…in Islamic countries under Sharia Law, in Atheistic countries under brutal dictators, our Forefathers in the faith knew and our suffering brothers in the faith know that they need the Eucharist. To hold this zeal and faithfulness in contempt or to regard it as foolhardy and unsafe…is to condemn the heritage of the righteous. No, perhaps it is time for us 21st American Christians to close our mouths, calm down, and listen to our past…to open our eyes and ears to the testimony of present day believers who know the fellowship of suffering…in ways you and I cannot imagine…and who, nevertheless, seek the Eucharist anyway.
Our work has just begun. The sermon is not ended. We must think and pray and ponder these things continually if, we too, would be faithful to Jesus Christ and his gospel during our short span of 80 years.
Only one life
Twill soon be past
Only what’s done for Christ
Let us pray:
Grant, O LORD, we beseech thee, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance, that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.