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Civility #7—Hopeful Civility

If you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are fortunate. So don’t let it bother you. Rather, set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts, so you will always be ready to answer, with courtesy and respect, anyone who asks about the hope you possess. 1 Peter 3:14–16

Hopeful people can be civil people, especially in the face of suffering. Anyone can be civil when all’s well. When nobody gets in our faces for doing what’s right, when nobody complains about our confrontations with wickedness, when nobody yanks our chain for being countercultural, it’s easy to engage in cordial conversations. We do what’s right—we align our lives with God’s agenda— because of the promises Jesus guarantees. But suffering for righteousness makes us wonder if an eternity of happy tomorrows is truly possible. Great! When this occurs, we have an opportunity to affirm the facts which inform and sustain our hope: 1) Jesus lived a righteous life, for which he suffered undeservedly; so suffering as his followers identifies us with him. 2) Jesus died undeservedly, the just for the unjust to reconcile us to  God. 3) God raised him from the dead as proof that his death was effective and applicable to every one of us who imitate him. 4) By raising Jesus from the dead God also declared that Jesus is indeed sovereign over the human affairs. So because of Jesus’ resurrection, our hope is secure, and we can speak with fearless civility to those who oppose us.

May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart represent you well, O Lord, my strength and redeemer.


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