The Right Kind of Fear
1 Peter 3:13-17
Today there is an escalating hostility toward biblical Christianity throughout Western culture. But the roots of that hostility are decades, even centuries old. Francis Schaeffer provided the following analysis in the 1970s:
“ In ancient Israel, when the nation had turned from God and from his truth and commands as given in Scripture, the prophet Jeremiah cried out that there was death in the city. He was speaking not only of physical death in Jerusalem but also a wider death. Because Jewish society of that day had turned away from what God had given them in the Scripture, there was death in the polis, that is, death in the total culture and total society.
In our era, sociologically, man destroyed the base which gave him the possibility of freedoms without chaos. Humanists have been determined to beat to death the knowledge of God and the knowledge that God has not been silent, but has spoken in the Bible and through Christ – and they have been determined to do this even though the death of values has come with the death of that knowledge.
We see two effects of our loss of meaning and values. The first is degeneracy. Think of New York City’s Time Square – Forty-second and Broadway. If one goes to what used to be the lovely Kalverstraat in Amsterdam, one finds that it, too, has become equally squalid! The same is true of lovely old streets in Copenhagen. Pompeii has returned! The marks of ancient Rome scar us: degeneracy, decadence, depravity, a love of violence for violence’s sake. The situation is plain. If we look, we see it. If we see it, we are concerned.
But we must notice that there is a second result of modern man’s loss of meaning and values which is more ominous, and which many people do not see. This second result is that the elite will exist. Society cannot stand chaos. Some group or some person will fill the vacuum. An elite will offer us arbitrary absolutes, and who will stand in its way?” (How Should We then Live? [Westchester, Ill.: Crossway, 1976], 226-27; emphasis in the original)
Believers in Peter’s time lived in the Roman Empire Schaeffer referred to, facing all the same kind of degeneracy and depravity that assaults today’s church. But they faced more frequent and overt hostility and persecution than believers in today’s culture face. In some parts of the world, however, there is direct persecution of believers, and it is likely that in the coming years Christians everywhere will face increasing hostility, both from civil authorities and from unbelievers at the personal level. This passage speaks to all who would live godly lives in the midst of a hostile, ungodly culture.
Peter teaches us to choose our fears wisely. We must not share the fears of our neighbors. As God’s people, we are called to live in hope and Peter explains that hope. Indeed, Peter reminds us that the starting point for every issue that the Christian faces can be found in the gospel.
Join us this Lord’s Day as Chad reminds us that there is a right fear and a wrong fear. Do you know the difference? Then he will take this text and demonstrate how it points us to the gospel. Invite someone to come along with you, or, if they are homebound, give them a link to our YouTube channel.