1 Peter 3:13-22 Fear

6th Sunday of Easter year A

Ac 17:22-31, 1 Pet 3:13-22, Ps 66:8-20, John 14:15-21

a dialogue sketch on 1 Peter 3:13-22. If you use this, edit the references to the series of sermons we were doing at the time!

Dialogue for 3 characters:
A is timid, wants to keep out of the spotlight;
B is ready to be more positive;
C is much more breezily confident.

C: Are we still on that sermon series, you know, the letter of Peter? It’s been going on a while, but I haven’t really got the plot yet.

B: Yes, we finish next week. I suppose it hasn’t come to a climax, but I have found it quite useful in explaining why Jesus resurrection is important, and what difference it makes to us now.

A: I thought it was enough that it happened. Why do you want to go asking questions about it? You can’t answer most of them.  What good is it going to do you?

B: Well, take today’s reading for example. We read from chapter 3, and Peter says “who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good?” I think he is saying that Christians should not be afraid.

C: (briskly) I thought that was obvious! What’s the point in being frightened? It doesn’t get you anywhere.

A: But it helps you keep out of trouble, and there’s plenty to be frightened of – there’s all this crime, and violence, and people trying to trick you into losing money, and you can always make a fool of yourself and even if you don’t people may talk about you behind your back, and I’m not as strong as I used to be and I’m a bit worried about my health, and I’m not sure what I’ll do if . . (grinds to a halt, realising that perhaps too much has been said).

B: (kindly) And those sort of things have always been there to worry and unsettle us. It was probably worse for the people who read Peter’s letter; their lives were pretty insecure even before they risked being persecuted for their Christian faith. But Peter suggests an answer.

A: You mean, he is saying that Christians needn’t be frightened? not of anything?

C: What sort of reason can you have for that?

B: I think he is saying that if we follow Christ, we are safe. It doesn’t mean that we won’t make mistakes, embarrass ourselves, face hard times. But if we know where we are going, and are confident of that, the problems on the way don’t matter so much.

A: It would have helped them a great deal if they were able to live without fear and worry.

C: That would explain why Peter expects Christians to be a blessing to those around them, so that even their enemies have to admit that they do good.

A: And that would make people ask questions about faith, how they could keep going and do that sort of thing in spite of difficulties.

B: Yes, but why “them”?

A: I beg your pardon?

B: You said, “how they could keep going”; I though we were reading Peter for what he says to us.

A: But it’s such a long time ago and their lives were so different

C: We’ve already said that we worry about a lot of the same things, and the argument seems good to me. We can still say, as Peter did then, “Who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good?” If we can be sure of our safety following Jesus, there is the basis for a new approach to life without fear.

B: So, can we say that Jesus lived without fear?

C: He certainly refused to be shut up or sidelined!

A: But – what about the garden of Gethsemane? I think he was frightened then.

B: I agree. He understands fear from his own experience, but he beat it – he didn’t let it change his life. He had decided to offer his life, and he went through with it, despite the suffering. And just look what he achieved!

C: He certainly pulled it off, but I’m a bit confused by those verses about the “imprisoned spirits” and Noah, though. Where do they come in?

B: Nobody seems certain. Some people think that after his crucifixion he went and told those who had died before that they were now freed. Others suggest that he announced his victory over evil to the evil spirits. Noah comes in because of Baptism.

A: You mean, as Noah built a boat and saved his family and all the animals from the great flood, Baptism is also about water and safety?

C: But by the promise of faith, not just doing the ceremony as if it were some sort of magic.

A: Wait a minute. I want to get this straight. – Are we saying that Christians do not live in fear, because Jesus was raised to life and now lives in heaven, where we are going to join him?

B: Yes, but we are not saying that means life will always be easy. Jesus went through some hard times, was badly frightened at least once, but he managed to focus on what was important and carry on.

C: So we aren’t talking about whistling in the dark, there is a reason for our optimism?

A: Or hope – a confidence that God is in charge, and we shall end up in heaven where our adventures will be put in perspective.

B: If we talk about hope, lets add faith (for the wobbly moments), and love, which should make us a real blessing and help us gather a few more to walk the way to heaven.

C: Pity this series on Peter finishes next week. Do you think we’ll find anything good to talk about after that?

(922 words about 10 minutes)                                    (Click here to return to the Index to Sketches)