Thursday, May 18, 2017

How to Testify in the Court of Life - Being a Better Witness

Lectionary reading reflection - 1 Peter 3:1-22

No one is going to bother someone with a reputation for being eager to good things for others. But if they do harm you for doing the right thing, you are really lucky! (Great salesmanship Pete.)

"Don't fear what 'they' fear..." Now we're talking! Don't fear what bad people fear (God, judgment, public opinion, your parents, paternity tests, etc.) because you don't need to fear if you've not done fearful things. Don't fear as your enemy fears - if you recognize that many bad things are done by good people out of fear, and if you don't fear the dark like fearful people, yours will be the advantage. Do not live life in fear as the world does; do not allow it to control your life as the nations do.

"...and don't let them intimidate you." Resist! Persist! Bad people will always try to get you to backdown, and make you question your values - question yourself. If you have sacrificed your chains of fear and destroyed your idols of security and comfort, they can't harm you in any way that truly matters; your spirit, your soul, your mind.

"Be constantly prepared to testify in a Court of peers as to what 
 you witnessed that gave you hope within all this hopelessness..." Why do I believe in God? Why do I follow Jesus? Why should I be a good person in a world where it sometimes seems like only bad people get ahead? Though it may feel like a trap, or that 100% of your grade depends on a pop-quiz, it more likely is that they are secretly hoping that you have some hope to share with them. Some days, hope is more rare than diamonds. Be woke - witness suffering! Be prophetic - testify hope!

"...yet do it in gentleness and reverence." Sadly, "witnessing" and "testifying" have become bad words, as more and more people see them as the weapons of bullies. When we try to share, we often forget to share the good news of our hopefulness. We share rules. We share fear of a god of wrath. We share our own fears and limitations wrapped up in dogma. Many a mother tried to tell us that we could capture more flies with honey than with vinegar (but Mom, I don't want to catch flies!). In politics and religion, as in life these days, we have lost the humanizing art of gentleness and the humbling skill of reverence. 

Then Peter said: "Live your life as though you will one day run for public office, and that all acts are public acts. Don't give your enemies a reason to ignore you, leverage to take you down, or an excuse to minimize you." In these dark times though, this may no longer apply to those who seek election. If I am seen as a stand-up person in these many small areas, then my position on some larger thing will have a greater chance of being heard, and have more weight.

Let's be realistic here folks - we will all suffer sometime or other! That being said, wouldn't it be better to suffer for being good than for being bad? Why do we try to provide company for our suffering? Wouldn't my suffering become a lighter burden knowing that I lightened someone else's too heavy load? If you have to suffer, suffer well.

Jesus took this a step further. He suffered so that we wouldn't be nailed to our suffering. When we grasp this, we become a new person with a clean slate. The bad is put aside and left behind as we learn the discipline of suffering like Christ.

(photography by tiwago)


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