A Year of Choices…
By Barbara Dahlgren from Barbara’s Banter at www.barbdahlgren.com
The Bible says to always be ready to give an answer to those who ask for the hope that is within us. (1 Peter 3:15) That scripture use to scare me a bit. Preachers have used this verse to encourage Bible study so we as Christians can answer questions about the Bible.
To be honest, I’m all for Bible study but I feel ill equipped to answer tons of Bible questions. I don’t always have good memory retention. Plus I’m not good with numbers so I continually transpose scripture references. I’m so thankful for Internet searches and iPhones that give me easy access to this kind of information.
There’s nothing wrong with being skilled in apologetics. We should know why we believe what we believe and may at some time be called upon to explain it. However, I don’t think “always being ready to give an answer” means we need to know the year the Tower of Babel was built, who Meshezabeel was, or how many cubits there were in Noah’s ark.
Here’s a little bit different way to look at this passage…
If we read the few verses before and after, we see this section is speaking of trials, false accusations, and suffering. I like what the New Living Translation says for 1 Peter 3:14-15: “But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.”
When Christians go through trials they have something most people don’t have. They have hope. Christian hope has a positive, encouraging energy that others can’t quite understand. This hope is attractive to a hurting world. This hope gives a peace that passes understanding even in the worst situations. (Philippians 4:7) It’s natural that others would be curious about where that comes from and ask questions.
So what might people ask? Maybe they would notice we aren’t reacting the way they think we should and ask, “How can you remain calm in all this turmoil?” This opens the door for us to possibly tell them that our relationship with Jesus helps us. If they want to ask us more about that, they will. We won’t need to force it or give them a crash course in salvation.
Someone might ask, “Where is your God while you are going through this?” We can quickly think about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace. They knew God could deliver them but said, “We know our God is able to deliver us from this situation, but even if he chooses not to, we will still trust him.” (Daniel 3:17)
With that example in mind we could tell them we know we have assured promises that come through our relationship with God and what we experience on earth is only temporary. Trials can’t be compared to what lies ahead or who lives in us. (Romans 8:18) Jesus lives in us!
Consider this…When this passage says be ready to give an answer, perhaps the answer we need to be ready to give is Jesus. Jesus is the answer! He’s the answer for everything!
Suggestions for practicing this choice…
- There’s a difference in sharing the gospel and cramming it down another’s throat. Don’t force your Christian beliefs on others. Wait for them to ask questions so you can have a natural conversation.
- Say a little prayer before you answer questions. Ask God to put His words in your mouth.
- Give simple answers with a meek and humble spirit. Give just enough info to answer the question. No need to dump the whole load on them. Leave them wanting more, not gasping for breath.
- The scripture says to “always” be ready to give an answer; it doesn’t say to always give it. Sometimes people are not really receptive so learn to read the situation before you speak up. It’s not that we need to be cautious about sharing Jesus with others, but we do need to be wise.
- Ask yourself, “If someone were to ask me about Jesus, what would I say?” Think about that! Then you will be ready to always give an answer for the hope that lies within you!