Recent issues of DTS Magazine reminded us how to engage wisely with outsiders of the faith (Summer 2022) and how to be prepared to give an answer to those who ask about our hope (Fall 2022). In this issue, we review how to become a compelling witness to those around us. To that end, let’s unpack three keys found in 1 Peter 2:11–12.
Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles to
keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against
the soul, and maintain good conduct among the
non-Christians, so that though they now malign you
as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and
glorify God when he appears.
Peter reveals the first key to a compelling witness: understanding our identity. Why is this important? Our identity is rooted in our new birth (1 Pet 1:3, 23). Because of this new birth, we are to be obedient children (1:14), become holy (1:15), and have a sincere love for one another (1:22). Peter writes to encourage “foreigners and exiles” who were displaced from their homes but not from God. We must understand that life right now is not God’s final plan for eternity. He will make all things new (Rev 21:5), including renewing the present heavens and earth. Until then, we are to live as God’s “foreigners and exiles” who give others a glimpse of what’s to come.
The second key to a compelling witness is understanding our calling. The foundation for loving others well is our understanding that God has chosen us to proclaim His virtues (2:9). Our lives should testify that God’s plan is to reconcile all things to Himself. God wants everyone to receive a new heart through faith in Christ. So He calls us to love those who presently walk in darkness (as we used to do).
The third key to a compelling witness is understanding our struggle. Life during our “temporary residence here” (1 Pet 1:17) is a battle. Prof. Howard Hendricks used to say, “The Christian life is not difficult. It’s impossible.” We do not have the power within ourselves to live the Christian life and be a compelling witness. The Holy Spirit empowers our witness.
Though this present life is a struggle, Peter urges Christians to “maintain good conduct among the non-Christians” (1 Pet 2:12). How? By becoming holy (1 Pet 1:15), abstaining from the desires of the flesh (1 Pet 2:11), and using our freedom to serve others (1 Pet 2:16). Peter encourages us to let our good conduct—how we love others well— be our witness.
The early church father Tertullian tells us in his Apologeticus (chapter 39, section 7) that people outside the faith were amazed at how Christians loved one another. A compelling Christian life, lived well before others, can be a powerful invitation to ask, “Why do you love others so well?” This issue of DTS Magazine features amazing stories of how followers of Jesus invite others to ponder sincere love.
Will we be maligned? Misunderstood? Persecuted? Yes! However, as children of light, our good conduct should shine by understanding our identity, calling, and struggle. Our conduct should stand out in such a way that everyone can see our good deeds and give honor to our Father in heaven (Matt 5:16; 1 Pet 2:12). May our lives increasingly present an authentic coming attraction of the new heaven and new earth!
About the Contributors
Kraig McNutt is Executive Director of Marketing & Communications for DTS. He studied philosophy at Indiana University (BA) and holds degrees from the University of Kentucky (MSLS) and Grace Theological Seminary (MDiv). He is also an author and historian on the American Civil War.