Well, I want to get you to think for just a few moments about moral preparedness. I would ask you, “What determines the choices you make in those little mundane moments where you live every day, the reactions that you have, the things you do or say?” Now, remember the context here of the verse I'm about to read is a culture of mistreatment, accusation, misunderstanding for these Christians. Verse 13, through 17, of 1 Peter 3:
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous to do 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.
The moral bottom-line of this passage is, “…in your hearts honor Christ as Lord.” It immediately makes me ask the question, “In my marriage, in my work, in my friendships, with my neighbors, with my money, with my sexuality, do I honor Christ as Lord? Does my heart functionally belong to Christ as Lord?” This means, again, my moral choices, those little moral choices that make up the direction of my life, are not shaped by what is going on around me, or what is being done to me, or what attracts me out there, but in my allegiance to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
So, this means two things. First, I'm willing to suffer even when I'm doing good. I don't know about you, but I don't like to suffer. I have never prayed, “Lord, won’t you send more suffering into my life? I know if you would do that, you'd love me.” I have surely prayed from relief for suffering, and that's not a wrong thing to do. But you can't honor Christ as Lord of your heart and refuse to suffer, because following Him will lead you into suffering somehow, someway. If you're not suffering now, you will someday, and if you're not suffering now, you're near someone who is.
But it also means something else. It means I'm ready to answer your questions when people come to me and ask me, “What makes me tick?” “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for the reason for the hope of this in you.” I love this. This is a different form of evangelism. I'm not chasing this person saying, “Can I talk to you about Jesus? Can I talk to you about Jesus?” This is a person who has seen the beauty of my life, seen me having hope in places where other people don't have any hope, seen my tenderness, my love, my joy, my sympathy, and they want to know, “Why?” And because of that, I have an opportunity to talk about this good God and salvation through His Son.
How do I do that? I don't do that proudly, and arrogantly, and aggressively; I do that with gentleness and respect because I understand the only thing that makes me different than that person who is now asking me these questions is grace. And here's an opportunity for me to be a part of God's operation of grace in that person's life.
I would ask you the question, “Is your life so attractive, so beautiful, that people come to you and say, ‘Tell me what's inside of you, tell me why you do the things you do, tell me what you have that I don't have?’” What a beautiful thing. That's moral preparedness. I'm prepared to suffer.
And I'm prepared to live in such a way that my life is attractive and that gives me gospel opportunities. What's my motive? He ends this way, “God's will and God's honor.” If your heart is owned by King Christ, you will care about God's will, and you will care about God's honor!