Tag Archives: Peter

Christians are Prone to Wander

The Bible often pictures God’s people as a flock of sheep.  Apparently, God sees some things in common between people of faith and small wooly livestock.  How are believers and sheep alike?

One point of comparison is noted by Peter.  He writes to Christians, “For you were like sheep going astray. . .” (1 Peter 2:25).  Sheep tend to stray from the safety of their shepherd and his flock.  On their own, in the open, sheep face a variety of dangers: predators, cliffs, thieves, and so forth.

Christians also tend to stray away from the safety of the Shepherd, our Lord Jesus, and from his flock, the church.  Like straying sheep, straying Christians face various threats.

The New Testament warns believers about 3 spiritual dangers.  First, the devil is like a roaring lion prowling around looking for someone to devour.  Second, this broken world is full of temptations that can entrap believers and shipwreck their faith.  And third, the ‘flesh’ is an inner threat, sinful desires that pull us back to a destructive lifestyle of disobedience to God.

To the believers who had once strayed Peter goes on to say, “but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”  Of course, the Shepherd and Overseer of their souls is Jesus, the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep.

Safety from the devil, the world, and the flesh is found in close communion with Christ.  And Christ gathers his followers into his church like a shepherd gathers his sheep into his flock.  In the flock, under the watchful eye of the shepherd, the sheep find security from every danger.

And more than protection, the sheep find provision when they are in the flock.  The shepherd leads his flock to green pastures and quiet waters, the necessities and joys of a healthy and enriched life.

Our Shepherd Jesus has come so that his flock may have abundant life.  Following Jesus, we find the provisions necessary for a strong faith.  The Shepherd and Overseer of our souls nurtures us so that we can grow in the grace of God and enjoy his blessings to the fullest extent.

Peter’s warning against straying reminds us that a spiritual downfall often begins in subtle ways.  Wandering away from the Lord is a gradual process that may go unnoticed until disaster strikes.  The wandering believer is rarely alarmed and often in denial about potential dangers.

James writes to Christians, “My brothers, if one among you strays from the truth, then someone should bring him back” (James 5:19).  As God’s people our highest goal is to be like Jesus, which includes seeking and restoring those who wander away.  Doing so is one way that we are his hands and feet.

A wonderful old hymn says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”  Knowing that God’s people are prone to wander, we should faithfully seek out those who do.  And if you or I happen to be the wanderer, we should be gracious when they come looking for us.

May the Good Shepherd always keep us,

Brother Richard

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A Word From the Heart

“But Christ, honor him as Lord in your hearts, always ready with a defense to everyone asking you for a word concerning the hope in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

Peter wrote these words to Christians who were facing opposition and sometimes deadly hostility for their faith in Jesus Christ. He wrote in order to encourage his fellow believers in their struggle.

In this verse, Peter instructed his readers to do two things. First, he called on his fellow Christians to set apart Jesus as Lord in their hearts. Peter started with the heart, that is, the mind and the will. Why? Because Christians are Christians from the inside out. Until the heart changes, nothing else can. The essence of Christianity is to follow Jesus first, before anything or anyone else.

When Jesus is Lord of a person’s inner being, there will be a sense of hope in that individual which shines through. The hope of true faith cannot be hidden, even in difficult times. And nobody can deprive a true believer of the hope that he or she has in the risen Jesus Christ.

Peter knew that outsiders would notice the hope in Jesus’ followers. They noticed that Christians were blessed with a deep and abiding sense of optimism even in the darkest of times. Peter also knew that curiosity would drive some people to ask believers about their hope, opening up wonderful opportunities for sharing the faith.

So the second part of Peter’s instruction was to be ready with a defense. People may have thought that Christians were foolish for being so hopeful when they faced such opposition and persecution. But Jesus had faced the ultimate persecution, death, and he had experienced the ultimate victory, resurrection. How could his followers lose hope when their Lord had defeated death?

Peter wanted believers to be ready with a personal testimony, a testimony that was rooted in their own personal faith in Jesus Christ. He called it a defense. Believers were on trial in the Roman world and they were required to give a defense for their hope in Jesus.

Christians today are on trial in America. The faith is under fire. Only those who have Jesus set apart as Lord in their hearts will be able to give an effective defense for the hope that Jesus provides. And those who have Jesus set apart as Lord in their hearts will not be able to silence the Spirit of Christ within them. The hope and its defense are both signs of authentic saving faith.

The Bible’s instructions are as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago. The world is still in a state of rebellion against the Maker. God’s people are still chosen and empowered to speak the truth in love. A word from the heart is still compelling and powerful. Let’s make Jesus Lord in our hearts and get ready to fight the good fight of the faith.

May our hope in Christ Jesus inspire us to contend for the faith,

Brother Richard Foster

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