"Reason for Hope"
1 Peter 3:15a - But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you [all] for a reason for the hope that is in you ...
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
A well-made violin, like a human being, is fearfully and wonderfully made. But it needs time and use to mature. I'm told that new violins must be played into condition. They must be conditioned to develop a well-rounded tone. While some debate this claim, it is indisputably part of violin-making lore. One hundred and thirty-some years ago, a British violin maker named Edward Heron-Allen noted that a violin consists of seventy different parts and that these pieces are like "strangers to each other." So, "it takes a century, more or less, to make them thoroughly acquainted."
A good fiddle, like a human being, is to be conditioned by age and experience. But, unlike a human being, a fiddle is not an individual. It's an ensemble of different parts commingling in community for a common purpose. So, maybe we should modify our metaphor and say that a well-crafted fiddle, like a human community, is designed to deepen and sweeten in tone through time and use.
This is how Peter, the writer of our text today, thought of things. Maybe you noticed how I added the word "all" to the translation we're using. A literal translation might say, "If anyone asks ya'll for a reason for the hope that is in yous guys-and-gals ..." This important point of grammar is easily missed by us English readers of the text. The fact is, Peter is addressing a community, not isolated individuals. Often, I hear Peter's encouragement spoken in the singular. That is, I'm supposed to think of how I, alone, as an individual, can be a good witness to this hope in Jesus. But Peter didn't think like that, not exactly. He wants us to think about our collective witness. Yes, of course, this involves individual action and personal responsibility. But it's always in relation to others in a community.
So, Peter devotes much of his letter addressing households and servants, husbands and wives, sisters and brothers—people bound to each other in love and mutual service. He encourages them, and us, to be in-tune with each other, sympathetic, of the same mind, resonating together with the self-sacrificing love of Jesus Christ, our pores and fibers all full of His music. Peter wants us to know that our Christian way to give an answer for the reason for our hope is deeply communal; it's something we give together.
In God's hands, we are becoming like a new violin. God doesn't need us to make music for Him. God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, resonate together in an eternal harmony of self-giving love and mutual service. No, God doesn't need us, but stubbornly, lovingly wants to share this community with us. And God's music, through time and use, is cancelling out our distortions and reigning us into His harmony. In Jesus, we are the unique and various components of a new fiddle fresh from the hands of our Maker. And it takes some time to make us all thoroughly acquainted.
WE PRAY: Dear Father, please send us Your Holy Spirit to help us give a good answer, together, for the reason for our hope, in Jesus, Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. In our culture, what makes it difficult to think more collectively, rather than individualistically?
2. How do you react, personally, to this "collective" way of thinking? What are its strengths and shortcomings?
3. How can you, individually, as a beloved, responsible, and gifted child of God, participate in a more communal witness to our hope in Jesus?
Today's Bible Readings: 2 Samuel 10-12 John 3:1-15
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