Peter continues his discussion about submission to authority and the doing of good. He asks, “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed” (3:13-14). He is confident that if Christians live as good citizens, blessing those around them, they will be respected and that will shame those who slander them. Even if this is not always the case, “It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (3:17). He says that they should not be surprised at the persecution that has befallen them but “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (4:14).
All of this may sound strange to us who expect no persecution and rely on the government to protect us from attack. For Peter’s audience the government was the attacker and there could be no escape. Near the end of this letter he makes a statement that is usually only half remembered: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your fellow believers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (5:8-9). Christians in that period faced literal lions in the arena. How fortunate we are that this is no longer the case. How unfortunate that we often do not realise that the “lion” is upon us until its jaws are firmly around our neck. Let us stand firm in the truth and fear the Lion of Judah!