“Better to Suffer”

1 Peter 3:13-22

May 14, 2023

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

1 Peter 3:13-22

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.

For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.

And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

| Centering Prayer |

“Better to suffer

for doing good,” the Apostle Peter

Teaches his peeps.

Most of us know firsthand suffering for being bad.

My father taught me suffering for bad behavior

In the pre- anti corporal punishment days. 

Um. Yeah. His belt was useful

for more than

keeping his pants up.

(Dad’s; don’t. Just don’t.

Not unless you want to go back to

Living without indoor plumbing, or

Listening to RCA radio hour Sunday evenings.

Learn and practice

better alternatives

to corporal punishment.)

Be better.

“Better to suffer for doing good,” the Apostle Peter teaches.

This is a

Lesson that stands the test of time.

An Irondequoit Town judge taught me to suffer a $250 fine

For speeding on the Bay Bridge a number of years ago.

At least

the district attorney appeared sympathetic

To my pitiful, less-than-fully-forthcoming defense

citing the newness of my new

Subaru’s adaptive cruise control.

The judge; not so much.

I’m confident my insurance company never got the memo, either.

“Go easy on Todd,” I was willing the judge with all my telepathic powers.

“He is an honest guy. Really, he is,” I thought, while forcing a smile.

“He is a preacher. You know, trying to make the world better.”

“He doesn’t have money for a big fine.”

“He’s not like those people, over there.”

“Please, Lord. Let me off with a warning and I’ll never speed again.”

Lying to myself and to my God

Becomes quick the habit and

The downfall of humankind.

“Suck it up and own it, Todd,” my better conscience appealed.

Deep within

is a tendency to

Make every effort to wiggle out from responsibility,

Imagine unsurmountable difficulties,

A reluctance to face my own flaws with absolute honesty,

And an unwillingness to seek God’s strength, guidance, and assistance …

Until no other avenue is left available.

When no other options are on the table

Then, and only then, do I plead as a last resort,

“Lord, Jesus Christ,

Son of God,

Have mercy on me,

A sinner.”

(See Jesus Prayer, or The Prayer, at Wikipedia dot com)

“Better to suffer for doing good,” Peter teaches,

“than to be caught lying like a dirt bag,” I would add,

“because of the


that dishonesty brings

To Jesus,

Our faith, and

Our call.”

The short of Peter’s message is

“do good!”

This is Peter’s answer to the question posed by many

Former Jewish,

Newly minted Christians,

Deployed to modern day Turkey in the first hundred years following the ascension of Jesus,

With a mission to witness to his resurrection

And an invitation to become his disciples.




“How are we to live?”

Step One: do good.

To do

Is to be active,

Not passive.

Take the initiative.

Don’t wait for others to step up, speak up, or act out.

Lead the way or get out of the way.

And, for goodness sake,

Don’t criticize people who do


With Jesus

It is active faith

Or, it is dead.

It is a relationship with Jesus

Or, it isn’t.

It is bearing fruit

Or, it is being pruned, cut, cast out, and burned with unquenchable fire.


Don’t just be,

Hoping to slide in under the radar of God’s judgment.

Failure to do good

Is just as bad as doing wrong, Peter implies.

Sitting on a fold-out picnic chair,

popping an umbrella, and

pouring yourself a beverage

For a front row seat to watch the world burn

Is not where any disciple of Jesus

Wants to be found.

Refuse to fail.

Resolve to fight for Christ,

Not with arms,

But with grace and love.

Fight for Christ until the bitter end;

Either the consummation of time

– Thy kingdom come, on earth as it in heaven –

Or, until Jesus returns in glory,

Just as he promised.

Do good.

Peter outlines the necessary characteristics

For Christians to do good.

Doing good begins with: make Jesus Christ your Lord,

The Apostle Peter writes. (3:15)

Everything else in heaven and earth

Is subjugated to our allegiance and fidelity to Jesus.

Everything else wins second place,

Gets a nice ribbon for runner up,

Becomes eligible for a participation award,

And a second to last page photograph in the

Mendon Honeoye Falls Lima Sentinel.

Christ alone

do we sanctify

as Lord and Savior.

Do good.


this awesome, divine goodness

Without fear or intimidation (3:14)

With transparency and a willingness for audit (3:15)

With gentleness and reverence, and

With a clear conscience. (3:16)

The suffering we face doing good

Is the same suffering Christ experienced in dying

For the sole and solitary purpose

Of bringing you and me to God. (3:18)

That whole Noah and the ark story?

Yeah, it saved eight persons.


(No, I’m not going to say that from the pulpit)

You can almost imagine Peter counting the survivors of Noah and the flood on his fingers.

At best, Noah and the ark

Amounted to triple A ball,

With a complementary rainbow desert.

Jesus, however, is a completely different story, a horse of a different color.

God ascends to the top of the major leagues.

He suffers, dies, and is resurrected from the dead

For all humankind,

To bring every individual to God,

To forgive, wash clean,

And to save, eternal life

To all who will claim it.


Redemption and salvation,

Is dressed in pinstripes,

In 7th game of the world series,

Bottom of the nineth inning,

Two outs,

Game tied,

Kind of at-bat. 

Jesus was, and is,

The pivoting chapter in salvation history

When God stepped into the batter’s box

And made a Louisville Slugger statement for the ages.

Do the right thing,

Regardless of outcome or consequences.

When we do the right thing,

Always and everywhere,

We are freed from the suffocating house of cards

Known as dishonesty, lies, and bald-faced lies,

Expending unnecessary energy to maintain the untenable,

To keep every plate spinning,

In spite of the knowledge that

Eventually every plate falls.

Every lie shatters.

Every house of cards comes tumbling down

Under its own weight.

Do the right thing,

Regardless of outcome.

Be blessed,

Or be cursed.

Rest secure in knowing

You’ve done your best

To do the right thing.

Then, gather up

all your will, and

leave the rest up to God.


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