Sunday, September 19, 2010

Somebody's Watching You

“Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
1 Peter 2:12 NASB

How often do you notice what goes on around you as you follow your everyday routine? Going to work, or to school, or shopping at the grocery store downtown, do you see and observe the many people around you and what they are doing and sometimes saying? Of course you do, and I'm sure all of us could tell stories of what we have seen people do or have overheard people say at times like this. The point I want to make, however, is this; if you notice them, what makes you think they don't notice you? The fact is, we are being watched.

In this passage from the first book of Peter, we find advice on what God expects from believers who live their lives surrounded by unbelievers. At the time Peter wrote this, the early Christians were greatly outnumbered by unbelievers, and were in fact having to endure increasing persecution at their hands. Understanding human nature, and aware that the normal reaction by anyone would be to respond in kind, Peter tells us that God expects us to react in a way that is the complete opposite of what the world would expect. So let me share with you what I believe the Spirit is telling me in this passage.

First, we will be accused. The Greek word for accused is "katalaleō" which in today's world could easily be translated "trash talking". It means literally to talk "against" someone, or as translated in the NASB, slander. The thing to be aware of though is this; none of it is true! When Peter wrote these words the early believers were being accused of all sorts of things, including eating human flesh and drinking blood, participating in wild orgies, and atheism because they did not worship idols like everyone else. Of course none of this was true, but that did not matter at all to their accusers. Peter says the answer to this is not to argue, or try to confront the accuser, but to simply continue to live your life in a godly way and not let these untruths affect the choices you make on a daily basis.

Second, we will be watched. I think this verse makes it clear that we are all being watched, and watched closely. I also feel there are three groups of people watching as well. Scary thought isn't it? First we are watched by those who accuse. These people want to see our reaction, and in fact, are probably trying to provoke a reaction. Second, we are being watched by unbelievers that are simply observers curious about how we react. They may not have participated in the trash talking, but they heard it or are aware of it and want to see what we do. Third, other believers are watching as well. They may not have been the object of the accusations but they know the what and the why and they are curious as well as to how you react to the situation. It's entirely possible they have not been a target like you because they are "camouflage" Christians, believers who don't live a life any different than the unbelievers around them. All three of these groups are watching you, so how you react will say much to many, and that brings us to the third and last point of this passage.

Third, we can be a witness to many. This verse says plainly that they will not only see what you do, they may glorify God when He visits. Now this brings up a very important point some might miss with just a casual reading of this verse. Exactly when is God's next "visitation"? Well that could be when someone dies, or if they don't, at the end of the tribulation. So what exactly is this verse telling us? I think two things here. The first is that everyone will stand before God and have an opportunity to glorify Him either when they die, or if it is when He comes, and this passage seems to make it clear their choice may well depend on our witness! Have you ever given thought as to what people left behind after the rapture will say about you? Will they say they understand, based on how you lived your life, why you went and they did not? Or will they say you lived no different than they did so why did you go and they did not?

When it comes to witnessing we always are impatient to see results right now, before it's too late. That is fine to a point, but we must understand that it may take the event we know as the rapture to germinate the seed we sow. I like what Chuck Smith, founder and pastor of Calvary Chapel had to say about this verse in his commentary on First Peter,

So live a life that is a witness before the world. They may say ugly things to you. They may sneer at you. They may mock you. But let your life be a witness that when the Lord raptures you, they're going to say, Wow, that guy was right, you know. He was really a neat guy, you know, he was all right. He did the right thing, you know, oh man. So, they will.

I couldn't say it any better than that. As hard as it is to have someone "talking trash" about us, it does in fact give us a perfect opportunity to witness to an unbelieving world. Why? Well now you know; it's because this verse tells us someones always watching you!

For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.
1 Peter 2:15 NASB

Keep watching.