“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Pet. 3:15-16)
Have you ever been asked to give a reason for the hope that you have—about your faith? Why you would give up everything to follow Jesus? The Bible tells us that we will be asked to do this, and that we should be ready to give our reasons, and defend our faith to anyone who asks us.
The word Peter uses when he says, “always be prepared to make a defense…” is interesting. It is the word “apologia”, in the Greek. It literally means a defense, a reasoned statement or argument.” The defense of the faith is called “apologetics”, after the word Peter uses here. It’s a practice that started way back in the second and third centuries by a man name Justin Martyr (who’s last name means witness). Nowadays, enter into any bookstore, or type in “Christian apologetics” on the web and your connected to vast libraries and volumes on Christian apologetics.
The point, I want to get at in this verse is two-fold: that we have to be ready to defend our hope, but we also need to share our thoughts in love, gentleness, and respect. Unfortunately, many well-intentioned people have set out to defend the faith in some not-so-gentle ways, and as a result have done more damage than good to Christianity as a whole. When we get into a situation at work, in class, on the street, etc., where we are called upon to give the reasons we put our faith in Jesus, we have to be ready? So how do we get ready?
First off, you need to pray that God will always help you to know the answer. In fact, in the context of the Apostle’s being dragged into court, Jesus promises this:
“Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour” (Matt. 10:17-19).
We need to ask God for His wisdom, because, after all, He knows everything, right?
Second, we need not be afraid to explore our own doubts. Too often we’re told to “just believe” because “the Bible says it.” That’s all well and good, but who in their faith doesn’t have questions, doubts, or fears? That’s a pretty normal thing. The problems come when we don’t take time to prayerfully, honestly explore those. Remember that God nowhere in the Bible commands blind faith, but on the contrary says,
“Test everything. Hold on to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21)
“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”
A third thing is to research other faiths, worldviews, and beliefs. You can’t reason against evolution if you don’t understand the science used to prove it. You can’t reason against Buddhism if you don’t understand it. You have to step up and take advantage of the myriad of sources available to explain these systems to you. Libraries and the Internet are amazing places to learn. Take advantage of the.
Lastly, remember to reason with people out of love—never escalating to an argument. You can’t argue someone to Jesus just like they can’t argue you to atheism. God expects us to be salt and light, loving our neighbor as ourselves. Be gentle, and pray for others, ask God to help you.. Just something to think about. —Scott