1 Peter 3:15 -“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.”
Growing up there were many Biblical passages that I deeply loved (Phil 4, Psalm 23, John 10) but there were some that were extremely challenging and the Great Commission in Matthew 28 was one of them. “Go there and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Go and teach, which means go and tell. Every time I read it or heard it, it reminded me I have a responsibility to go and tell others about Jesus. I am called to live my life in such a way that my identity is found in Jesus and I have to tell others about Him.
Those are hard words for a teenager to hear. Go and tell others about Jesus. Most teenagers when I was growing up didn’t want to talk about Jesus. Cars, girls, music (and not necessarily in that order) this was the substance of our conversations. If I tell others about Jesus they will think I’m strange, they will think I’m extreme. They might even label me a fanatic. I can’t tell anyone about Jesus, but I am told by Jesus in His word that I am supposed to “go and tell”. It is my responsibility and my calling.
Then I heard 1 Peter 3:15, “always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks the reason for the hope that you have…..” What a relief! I’m supposed to tell but only if I’m asked. Now I could go back and talk about all those things that teenage boys normally talk about. Peter was telling us to sit back and passively wait to be asked. Or was he?
On closer examination of the passage and much to my dismay, that wasn’t what Peter was saying at all. He wasn’t saying sit back and wait to be asked, he was saying live so differently, live so passionately for Jesus that others ask you why you are different. Live out your faith very actively and very passionately. This isn’t a sit back and wait passage, rather it is a live boldly for the glory of God passage. Be so active in your faith, that others see Jesus in you. Be so active in your faith that others say you are different. Let the love of Jesus shine through, which means you will be living out your faith and naturally talking about Him, and thinking about Him because out of an abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. What Peter is saying is be active in you faith and in your love for Jesus.
Think about Him, talk about Him, live like Him and people will ask. Then when they do ask tell them about Him. Tell them about Jesus, share with them the beauty of the Gospel. And do so with gentleness and respect. In other words when you are telling someone about Jesus don’t stop acting like Jesus, continue to walk in His footsteps, love people even when you are telling people about Jesus. If they don’t agree with you? That is okay, still treat them with gentleness and respect just like Jesus did. Jesus was not always meek and mild, in fact many times He had very powerful and harsh words for people, but most of the time it was for those who claimed to be religious and yet didn’t love people. He turned over the tables of the money changers, He talked about hell, He rebuked people, but when He spoke to those who were caught in sin He spoke to them with love. He spoke to them with gentleness and respect. We are called to do the exact same thing.
Live out your faith actively and boldly, love like Jesus did and then people will ask why are you different? Then when they ask, tell them Jesus makes all the difference in the world, and when you tell them that, do it with love. After all that is what Jesus did.