1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…
Our Verse of the Day is one of the most succinct instructions we can find in the Bible regarding evangelism in its “simplest” form. We do not have to pass out “religious tracts” in the mall or door-to-door in order to be evangelists; although there might be occasions for us to use that method of sharing the Gospel. We do not have to stand on street corners with signs, banners, and megaphones heralding Scriptures to passersby; although if the Spirit directs you to do so … you should obey Him. But if you think about it, when most of us were “confronted” by the Gospel message, the context was probably somewhat different. Your exposure to the message about Jesus Christ probably came through someone with whom you had a relationship. It could have been a parent, a sibling, a family member, a friend, a co-worker, or simply an acquaintance. Maybe someone did hand you a Gospel tract, or a religious billboard caught your eye and planted a seed of spiritual introspection. But most likely it was seeing “something different” in the life of another believer or hearing the personal, spiritual experience of someone you trusted that inspired or encouraged you to have a “real” relationship with God….
As I read this verse, I connected with its instruction on “how” to be an effective witness of the Gospel. First of all, Peter indicates that we must have a deep relationship with Jesus ourselves. In our hearts we are to “revere Christ as Lord”. This means we have humbled ourselves and wholly surrendered our lives to His authority. This means we esteem Him worthy of all praise, honor, and worship. This means we have experienced His life-changing grace in our own hearts and desire our lives to reflect the holiness for which He saved us. As the writer of Hebrews admonishes us: “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Cf. Hebrews 12:14) Yes, if we revere Christ as Lord in our hearts, we will pursue a life that is sanctified in order to live godly and worthy lives before Him.
If we are living a life that demonstrates a genuine, intimate relationship with our Lord Jesus, then I’m fairly certain others will see it. And sometimes your life in Christ will produce curiosity in someone who is seeking to have “more” of that “something different” you have in your life. It will be attractive to them because you display the way, the truth, and the life of Jesus. In this context, Peter instructs us: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Note the extreme language: ALWAYS. To be prepared means we have “practiced” in order to be ready. We have “refined” our thoughts about our own personal encounter with Jesus. We have “reflected” on our own experience of repentance, redemption, and reconciliation in our lives. As a result, sharing the Gospel … well it simply becomes a matter of sharing our own story!
“But do this with gentleness and respect,” Peter advises. His approach sounds very similar to what Paul counseled, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Cf. Colossians 4:5-6) Indeed, this is why I think we need to reflect on how to best communicate and share the good news of Christ Jesus. The manner and the circumstances in which we shared the Truth with someone will determine our effectiveness in reaching that person for God. If we appear pious or act superior in our tone, we will not reflect what Jesus taught: “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Cf. Mark 9:35) So the question to ask is whether you and I are “prepared” to answer anyone about our faith and hope in Christ? Or perhaps a more pertinent question to ask might be: “Is our love for others evident in our lifestyle and walk of faith – so much so that it would be a conversation starter for a stranger or an unbeliever?”
My friends, for unbelievers to respond to the Gospel, they need to see an “authentic” Gospel impact within us. They need to see a genuine outcome of the power of God in order to believe such power exists and that it does produce change. We live in a generation and a culture that increasingly dismisses or rejects the existence of God; and more specifically, the wonderful message of Jesus. And I believe some of this intellectual skepticism might stem from inadequate “evidence” of the work and power of God in the lives of those who profess faith in Him. If our manner of life looks no different than the culture or the world, how can we have any impact on those seeking to come out of it?
John 3:5-8 (NIV)
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So, it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
I love the metaphor that Jesus used when He conversed with Nicodemus. We cannot see the wind, yet we can observe its movement and impact. Likewise, we cannot see the Spirit of God, yet a person should be able to discern His manifestation in the life of a believer! If our lives do not authentically reflect the transforming power of Christ, then how is there evidence for an unbeliever to move from skepticism to the truth they are desperate to find? I believe when the presence of God is seen because His impact is observable, a seed of faith can be planted. And so, I pray that each of us will be introspective and consider if the “wind” of our lives is sufficient to “stir the leaves” of doubt in the heart of an unbeliever. If it is, I would venture to say that someone is going to ask about the difference they see in you … your life of faith in Jesus Christ. And if they do, be prepared to tell them your story. I know it will be a great one to share!
So Now You Know…
Have a Blessed Day!
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:3-6