Several years ago at St. Matthew’s we introduced the phrase “And then some,” saying that is the kind of church we want to be—not a church that does the bare minimum, but a church that goes above and beyond. We want to be a church that does not only what is required or expected, but what is required or expected and then some. That phrase has helped define who we are in expressing the “St. Matthew’s spirit.”
Lately I’ve been thinking of another phrase that I’d like to see enter our collective consciousness and shape who we are. It comes from the words of Mother Theresa; “Small acts done with great love change the world.”
This is precisely what Peter is saying here: Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge, he writes. Jesus, of course, taught something very similar. He said, Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Peter goes on to list ways to do this, such as by being good citizens, or those who benefit the community and society around them. Honor others. Love well. Respect authority. It’s simple stuff, really—but harder to practice.
What does it look like to give back to our communities? How might we actively serve our neighbors? What “good deeds,” or small acts of kindness, are we doing, day in and day out? These are the kind of questions that Peter asks us to consider.
And not just to consider, but to answer.
And not just to answer, but to do.