But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)
Peter assumes three things:
- There will be people in your life who will question you. Peter assumes that there are people in your life that you are in such close proximity with that they can see the details of your life and feel comfortable enough, be intrigued enough, or have enough courage to question you about the way you live your life.
- That your hope is in Jesus. We misplace our hope and put it in the wrong place (money, success, other people, politics…etc.).
- That you’ll be respectful. We use the Bible as a mirror first, not a hammer. We don’t use scripture to beat down judge people around us. We use it as a mirror and ask: What is God saying to me? Where do I need the Holy Spirit to work in my life? Where am I disobeying God?
Assuming that’s in place, Peter tells us we must always be prepared to answer those who question why we hope and follow Jesus. Here’s why this matters so much: our world is a mess.
We’re all in agreement on that. We may disagree in which way the world is in a mess or why the world is such a mess, but we would all come to that same basic conclusion that the world is a mess and needs help and needs saving. As Christians, we know Jesus – and nothing else – can save.
As Christians, we don’t have the option to disengage from the mess of our world.
Times have changed:
- Acts 2 and Acts 17 show two very different ways of communicating the same message to different people.
- The Christian message doesn’t change, but the method has to.
We are living in an alternate ending:
- Read Luke 15:11-22
- Imagine a different ending to the story:
- The son never returns home. Instead, he stays and works in the pigpen and raises his own family.
- His kids might hear stories from their dad about what Grandpa and his palace were like but never know that for themselves.
- And imagine those children they too weren’t curious enough to go seek out their grandpa’s palace but instead stayed where they were and had kids of their own.
- Those kids, they wouldn’t even have that echo anymore. They wouldn’t have a concept of the palace at all. No framework to understand how their great-grandpa was.
- They wouldn’t even know how to get back to the palace even if they wanted to.
We are living in the first fully post-Christian generation. This means that this is the first generation to live without Christianity as its primary worldview.
How can you be prepared to answer:
- You don’t need to be a sociologist to be able to give a reason for your hope.
- You don’t need to be a theologian to give a reason for your hope.
- You don’t need to be a bible scholar to give a reason for your hope.
- You don’t need to pulse on the latest trends of culture to give a reason for your hope.
God will bring passions and talent to people in these areas. And that’s a good thing. They are a gift to the church.
But here is what I want you to understand today: God wants to use your reason for your hope as an answer. What’s the reason you put your hope in Jesus? Be ready to tell that story. Be prepared to tell people what life with Christ is like. Don’t overcomplicate this or put unrealistic pressure on yourself that you’ll never live up to.
Here are the two things you need to do to prepare yourself to answer everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have.
- Get close. Embed yourself in your neighbourhood. Know others and be known. It starts with a simple ‘hi.’ Find five seconds of courage and introduce yourself (even if you’ve lived there for ten years!). We don’t get close because people are projects, and we’re trying to win them over to our way of thinking. We get close because they matter, because people are made for connection, because God loves them, and because they might not have anyone else to tell them that.
- Pray often. Continually make your neighbours and neighbourhood a priority in prayer. God moves when we pray. He can create a new passion and burden for your neighbours. He can create new opportunities for new friendships to form. He can give you that courage you need to make new friends. He can fill you with hope for the people on your street.