“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:13–18 ESV)
Peter zooms out to give us a big picture vantage point on life. He is not saying that we won’t suffer – his reader’s already were suffering. But, ultimately all things will work for their good (Romans 8:28-31). Peter reminds them of the Lord’s words: ““Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10 ESV). Peter urges them to dwell on Ultimate realities, on the bigger picture. When we suffer, we can either be driven to God and His bigger eternal work or inwardly and bemoan our own personal hardships. Peter calls us to run to God and see that He is work in the arc of eternity.
Peter argues here to be able to give a winsome response to people when they ask about our hope. Hope is interesting here because the real pivoting point is where is our hope really found? Is our hope really in Jesus or some other idol? If our hope is really in the Lord, then people will notice the poise and ballast in our lives when they are squeezed and pressed by hardship and suffering. Only grace soaked people will be able to endure with hope – for they know this is not all that there is. Hope is the expectation of good as the Christian is confident & joyful that he has an inheritance that is certain & secure. Some of the time, Christians will suffer for doing good – even though the claims against them be baseless.
Peter links the power to suffer well to our identity in Christ – He suffered on our behalf so that one day we wouldn’t have to. This is a major verse on the atonement – Christ, the Righteous, suffered for us, the unrighteous, so that we may be brought to God. He died in the flesh so that we could be made alive in spirit. So regardless of where you find yourself today and regardless of the suffering that you face – financial, relational, emotional, physical or familial – set your eyes firmly upon Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. He was the Ultimate Sufferer so that one day our suffering would end. Remember your inheritance as a child of God; there is coming a day when He will make all things new. Our lives will be truly lived as they were designed to – no more frustration and futility. We will live in perfect paradise in the presence of our glorious Father.