This morning, I was looking at 1 Peter chapter 3. The part where Peter says “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…” I was reminded by someon that a few weeks ago I talked about this very thing in a sermon (which is always nice to hear that the sermon is still remembered several weeks later!).
The point that Peter is making is that we need to know what we believe and why we believe it. We ought to be able to explain this, not with nastiness and judgement, but with gentleness and reverence. We need to be able to tell people that we’re Christian, and what that means to us personally and as members of the larger Body – by being holy and loving.
We may disagree with someone – maybe even very strongly – but we ought not degenerate into name-calling or insulting speech. Someone may be very misguided in their theology and actions, but they are still an image of God. That is, we ought to treat each other with respect and love even when we disagree.
At the same time, we need to be prepared to be able to speak to our faith. Before anyone gets too scared – that just means (to me) that we be able to talk about the difference our faith has made in our lives. We don’t need to be able to answer all the questions people might ask – or be able to “defend” God from outrageous attacks. We do need to be able to still share that we are God’s in the face of these questions or attacks. Don’t back off – but just stand firm and BE. God will provide His own defense if it is required.
We DO need to be able to have courage and say what we believe. It doesn’t have to be precise (at least not at first!) or even convincing….it does need to be sincere. If you doubt about something, have the guts to say so. If someone is honestly interested enough to be asking questions and you say that you’re not sure about something or that you have doubts…that’s not a bad thing! It often is good, because it shows a humanity that is so often lost in interpersonal dialogue.
Anyway – the whole point is that we need to be ready to stand upon our hope. I love that word! Hope. That no matter what happens, God is in charge and we have the everlasting hope in Him.
Never forget to whom you belong – and be prepared….