I once had the opportunity to embark on a backpacking trip to Jacks River Falls in North Georgia. The trail into the falls was 18 miles with more river crossings that I could keep up with. The winding trail and muck was also met with rattlesnakes, bears, and more. While the journey was a challenge, the experience of the falls was a memory I will never forget.
This experience comes to my mind when I consider 1 Peter 3. At first pass the chapter seems to wander through a variety of thoughts and force us to tromp through some challenging portions of the text. The journey is worth the challenge when we reach the waters of hope in baptism.
Often we may be tempted to completely skip, or bypass, portions of Scripture that are difficult to reconcile and open to discussion. However, the courage to dive into the Word and even consider varying views or interpretations of Scripture force us to reckon with our faith and strengthen personal ownership of it.
Ultimately this pursuit helps us live out the challenge of 1 Peter 3:15. It is not a matter of if, but when, we are challenged to defend what we believe and why. If we never stretch our faith and minds to think through faith and reason in our heart to stand firm on truth, we cannot expect to resist the temptation to wander off course.
Consider the challenge of personal study like the 18 mile hike to the falls. The journey may be difficult but the destination is worth the effort.