Have you ever been made fun of for your faith? It can feel awful, making you want to crawl into the closest hole and hide. That feeling of shame is often so powerful that it gets stuck inside us, and we fear talking about our faith ever again. What should we do about this?
Instead of responding negatively, Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15 we should, “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.” This is crucial.
I was convicted about this idea this week. I would say I try to set apart Christ as Lord, but it hit me, how often do I talk about Jesus? We talk about what is important to us. We’re excited about it. I’m in week 11 of 18 training for a marathon, so I have been talking about running a lot lately. Mostly it is complaining about being tired, hungry and sore all the time. Here’s what convicted me: I say Jesus is way more important to me than running, yet I rarely talk about him. How about you?
Peter says in verse 15 that we should always be ready to talk about Jesus. “Always be ready to give an answer to those who ask you to give a reason for the hope you have.” When you have set apart Christ as Lord, when you are in close relationship with him, thoughts about Jesus will be filling your heart and mind, and you’ll be ready to talk about the hope you have in him.
Will people ask about this hope, though? Peter says we should be ready when people ask us to give the reason for the hope we have.
Peter is not just saying we need to wait around and be quiet until people ask that specific question. He is talking more broadly. He is talking about being prepared to share the good news of Jesus at any time. That would apply in many different situations.
Also, I love that Peter talks about the hope we have. Peter’s is a wonderfully positive model for how we should talk about Jesus. Think about it: we believe in good news! “For God so loved the world!” And because Jesus gave his life on the cross for the sin of the world, and then rose again to new life, God wants all to have that same new life, both now on earth and in heaven, when we choose to believe in him and follow him. That is hope!
How about you? How did you come to know that hope? One practical beginning step is simply to tell your story. Get the details down. Write them out or type them. Or maybe you prefer talking. Meet up with a trusted friend or spouse and share the story with them. A great way to “always be ready” is to first become familiar with your story of hope in Jesus, and writing it or talking it out with a friend can really help.
Then look for ways and places to share it. Always be ready. Of course Peter is not talking about blurting it out in every single conversation or encounter you get into. But we do need to be ready. As I said before, in a culture where hardly anyone will ever ask, being ready can mean actively looking for ways that our story of hope will fit into a conversation. When Jesus is Lord of your life and you have an active, thriving relationship with him, conversation about him will naturally and joyfully flow out on a regular basis.
Are we doing this?
For those of us at Faith Church, our denomination’s name is Evangelical Congregational. Evangelical is a word that has taken on a very political difficult meaning over the years, and that’s why we removed it from our church sign last year. But historically, evangelical means “to proclaim good news.” That is a huge part of the mission that God has given to us. We are people who proclaim the good news about the hope we have in Jesus. That is what Peter is talking about here.
We Christians are people who believe the good news about Jesus, and then have chosen to follow his way for life. We have hope of new life! So again I ask, are we talking about the hope we have?
At at recent meeting, I asked a small group of people from my church what they thought about how people in our church family are doing sharing the hope we have on an individual basis in our community. The general consensus was that we could do a better job.
Of course, there are roadblocks that deter many of us from telling our stories of hope. Fear of wanting to say the wrong thing, fear of wanting people to get the wrong impression, fear of ridicule, fear of being unprepared
But Peter says in verse 14, “Do not fear!”
I am convinced in my own life, that I need to be more vocal. I would say that I am ready to share the words. But if I am ready and never actually share the words, what does that say about me? I will admit to fear.
Do you need to be more intentional and proactive in telling the story of the hope you have in Jesus?