Some years ago a group of three men from St. Matthew’s went to a conference on “Servant Evangelism”. As part of the conference, we did things like feeding homeless people in a city park on a bitter cold day and going door to door handing out light bulbs to people living in subsidized housing. Often these acts of kindness opened the door to talk further with people, and sometimes that conversation led to talking about Jesus and praying together. It was a very powerful experience.
This is precisely the idea behind 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. 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 then goes on to list ways to do this. Be good citizens. Honor others. Love well. Respect authority. It’s simple stuff, really—but harder to practice.
How are you and I good citizens? Good citizens are involved in their community. What are you and I doing on a regular basis to make our community a better place to be? How are we serving the needs of those around us?
What does it mean to “honor” someone? Who might we honor? I’d suggest that in a day and age where disrespect is all too common, honoring one another might be a powerful way of witnessing to the power of the Gospel to change lives.
What does it look like to love well? What is one concrete way you and I can show someone love today, especially someone outside our family and friends?
What does it look like to be under authority? Specifically, how could we put this into practice in such a way that those around us might notice it?
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 d0.