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,
1 Peter 3:15
I always read this verse as “always be prepared to give a lecture on Christian apologetics”. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to understand that “the reason for the hope that you have” is not the same as “the reason that you should believe”.
In college I volunteered for a pro-life organization. Part of the job included wielding signs on campus’s main thoroughfare and starting conversations with strangers on this heavy topic. Needless to say it was mostly enduring insults and dodging half-drunk sodas, but I did have a couple good conversations. One in particular sticks out because of my own ignorance of this verse.
My friend Michelle wanted to know why I felt so strongly about Pro-life issues. However, the stress of publicly declaring my stance on abortion had got me so flustered that it took me a few minutes to put together a coherent sentence. And she, not being a Christian, but a seeker (and a good friend) listened to me patiently.
I was kicking myself as she walked away. I hadn’t presented the answer as well as I should have. I had approached her, not as a friend telling another friend of the peace of God, but as an opponent, spitting out counter-arguments like some ball machine in a tennis court. I just kept swinging even though I had lost the point of the interaction.
Many Christians like myself fail at witnessing because we simply don’t know how to go about it. That’s why we need to be prepared for whatever situation may come; the potential impact of sharing the Gospel is just too wonderful to ignore.
But just look at what happens when a person believes in Jesus (from cru.org):
- They become children of God.
- Their bodies become temples of God.
- All of their sins are forgiven.
- They begin to experience the peace and love of God.
- They receive God’s direction and purpose for their lives.
- They experience the power of God to change their lives.
- They have assurance of eternal life.
- Witnessing will stimulate your spiritual growth, lead you to pray and study God’s Word, and encourage you to depend on Christ. You will experience the tremendous privilege and honor of representing Jesus to the world (2 Corinthians 5:20).
To say this is an important part of living out our faith would be a grave understatement. Missionaries aren’t just wacky families who decide to uproot their lives and head to Rwanda (although they are much needed!). They can be ordinary, local folks like you and me. After all, there may not be anyone else as well-suited for the people around you than you are.
It frightens me to think that close friends and members of my own family may choose to reject Christ in the end. I know it’s hard to believe that Jesus will come back and dole out justice, but don’t let that fool you into procrastination. It is not God’s will that even one is lost.
Here is an excellent article in getting started with sharing the reasons for your hope with others.
God, thank you for blessing us with the opportunity to be partners with you in gathering up your scattered sheep. Help us to learn the right ways to witness our faith to the world. Steer us in the direction of people who will have ears to hear. Speak through our mouths and tear down the arguments of the prideful. We honor you and give you all the glory forever. Amen.