“…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, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
1 Peter 3.15-16, ESV
We are on day 13 of this month’s scripture writing plan about “The Armor of God”! Within the plan, we are currently focusing on the “shoes of readiness.” These spiritual shoes are pretty important. Without them, we will be stumbling in our faith.
In today’s passage, Peter tells us to “be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” As I read this (or write it out), the question I must ask myself is, “Am I prepared to answer anyone?” and “How do I prepare???”
Preparing to Defend the Faith
The phrase, “give a defense” is translated from the Greek word apologia which means “a speech in defense.” A deeper definition would be: “properly, a well-reasoned reply; a thought-out response to adequately address the issue(s) that is raised.”
If I had to stand in court and supply evidence or a reasoned response for my faith, could I do it? If a friend asks me, for instance, why I trust the Bible, could I supply a response beyond, “because it’s God’s word”? If someone asked why I decided to follow Jesus, what would I say?
Honestly, I have learned many of my responses throughout the years simply by finding myself challenged by real people. It’s not the ideal way to begin, but it does force you to reflect on what you know and dig deeply into what you do not know.
Soon after being baptized into Christ, my eighth grade science teacher started saying things like, “Christians are stupid because they don’t believe in Evolution.” Thirteen-year-old-me didn’t know enough to challenge him, but it forced me to do some digging and answer my own nagging doubts about faith and science. Another teacher engaged me in a discussion on existentialism during my senior year of high school. Thankfully, I had been a student of the Bible for a long time and was able to form logical responses. I don’t think I made any difference to that teacher, but it did help me to grow in my experience on how to respond to some of the philosophical challenges to Christianity.
If we are living for Christ, we are going to be challenged by people who are not. Sometimes they’ll simply be curious and sometimes they will seek to destroy us. Begin your preparation by asking yourself questions you’ve heard people ask, then write or run through a scenario in your mind as to how you will respond.
Some questions/comments include:
- How can you believe in a loving God when bad things happen to good people?
- Why do you believe Jesus was anything more than a man?
- Doesn’t your faith reject science since you don’t believe in Evolution?
- How can you say what I’m doing is sin if truth is relative?
- How can you believe in the Bible when it’s just a book written by men?
- Do you need a crutch? Is that why you’re a Christian?
- Too many bad things have happened to me in my life. I can’t believe there is a God.
There are, of course, many more questions. Responding effectively, with “gentleness and respect,” is our job. How we answer these questions may plant the seed of the gospel in someone’s heart. We may never see the growth of that seed, but someone else might!
Here are some additional things you can do to prepare:
- Pray for wisdom daily (James 1.5-8)
- Commit to reading and internalizing the Bible
- Prepare answers!
- If you don’t know how to answer, start researching. Ask a brother or sister in the faith with experience how to answer the question.
- Practice quietness, gentleness, and humility so that you will be able to compose yourself when faced with rage and disrespect.
This last point is vital. People do not want to be treated like the dirt beneath your feet. We need to listen to their words and what is behind their words and we must remember that we are talking to a soul. That soul is often held captive by Satan’s deceit. Do we love that soul? Do we care about that soul? When we speak, are we communicating that love or are we simply wanting to prove ourselves “right.”
Don’t let your pride or laziness hinder the gospel.
Put on those shoes of readiness!