Rudyard Kipling, the British poet, wrote the following words (and I paraphrase greatly):
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
. . .
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
. . .
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Less poetic is 1 Peter, but Peter reminds me of this poem because Peter calls Christians, undergoing the kind of suffering and intense pressure (mentioned by Kipling) that causes most folks to lose their composure and panic, to instead be calm, unafraid, and steady in their course of following Jesus.
Chapter three is a minefield of controversy, not the least of which are the early verses that call Christian wives to be “submissive” to their husbands. Peter describes what he means. Christian wives should try to win their husbands to Christ by godly behavior – not by coercion, force, or nagging. The behavior should exhibit a “gentle and quiet spirit,” not a mean or anxious one, a focus on the heart rather than a worldly attractiveness, and a determination to “do what is right” no matter what.
Another controversy comes at the end where Peter talks about baptism. You should remember that Peter is not trying to lay a rational for being baptized, but rather, he deals with what happens at baptism. In baptism we pledge to live in such a way as to maintain a good conscience before the Lord, and salvation cannot be had without such a pledge. Peter’s point is that because they have made this pledge, they should live up to it, no matter what the difficulty.