Christians can live distinctively because of the living hope that we have. We live distinctively in order to point others to Jesus. Living distinctively, especially in tough times, is what allows Christians to share the hope that we have.
Noah is an example of a distinctive life. It’s a story of God’s judgement on the world. Noah is far from a perfect person but was the best of a bad lot. He listened to God and built the ark. He was ignored by others. Only eight were saved. Through Jesus’ death, God declares throughout history the justice of his rescue. Jesus rules over all. In one sense, the ark saved Noah, but it was simply the evidence of his faith in God. Baptism is a symbol of us dying and being risen to new life. We don’t think of it as being distinctive. For Peter’s first hearers that might have meant death. Peter says it’s worth it to be distinctive. It’s a way of saying that we’re not good enough.
Imagine living in a country with a corrupt government. The world says to get out of that situation. Start a resistance. We think it makes sense to get even. Peter says to submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake (2:13). It’s not easy to submit to injustice. Why? It’s distinctive. It gives Christians the opportunity to tell others about Jesus. What does our culture say? Fight back. It’s controversial to submit yourselves to your masters (2:18). Peter says even when they’re beating you, stay, because it’s a way of being distinctive. What does our culture say? Get out.
Peter says to be distinctive from the world. He says to repay evil with blessing (3:9). This isn’t a call to stay in harm’s way. We should encourage people to move away from abusive partners. Don’t take vengeance into your own hands. We’re called to follow Jesus’ example (2:21). We know that Jesus suffered unjustly. He lived the only perfect life (2:22-23). We point people to Jesus as we inherit a blessing (3:9). Peter quotes Psalm 34 in 3:10-12. We are called to live distinctively in every area of our lives.
Are you ready to give a reason for the hope that you have (3:15)? When we live distinctive lives for Jesus, people will ask us why. That gives us the chance to give a reason for the hope that we have. We have this hope because Jesus has rescued us.