Yesterday we talked about not allowing the devil to steal our testimony. Not only do we not want to give the deceiver a “win”, we want to share our hope with others to further God’s kingdom. That’s why we’re still here on earth after coming to Christ. It’s truly the way we show our love for others. If we truly love someone, don’t we care about where they will spend eternity? “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:7-10)
I’ve recently had several opportunities to share with others, and each situation and conversation was different. I’ve asked the Lord to give me opportunities to share Him with others, and to recognize the opportunities when they come. In each instance I took the opportunity based on something they said. I didn’t preach, I shared what I’ve experienced in my own life. We are told, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Pet 3:15).
First, we should set aside our hearts as the place where Christ is fully honored as the Lord. Peter is writing to people who are already believers. His audience already understands Jesus to be the Lord of all. Still, he instructs Christians to focus intently on Christ’s role as our master, living as if that were absolutely true in all cases, even in suffering. Peter calls us to full submission to Christ.
When we set apart Christ as Lord, it will change us. Peter says those who observe us will notice the difference. That difference is hope. Even in the midst of our suffering, our hopefulness should be apparent. So, Peter instructs us to be ready to answer the question our life should inspire: “How can you be so hopeful in such difficult circumstances?”
Peter anticipates people will become curious. Hopefulness and joy are starkly different from the normal human response to suffering. So much so that people will be eager to understand it. What will we say when they ask? We must be prepared to give our defense, to make the case for faith in Christ. We need to reject the cultural pressure to keep our beliefs to ourselves. Instead, believers should openly share the good news of redemption through faith in Christ.
The Greek word translated as “make a defense,” or “give an answer” is apologian, from the root word apologia. This is not related to the English word “apology,” where one expresses regret or remorse. Rather, the term means a justification, or an “answer back,” or a reason.
Finally, it matters how we make that case for Christ. We must present it with gentleness and respect. Christians are not called on to condemn those who are curious about our hopefulness. Nor are we to be vindictive, vengeful, or insulting to those who disagree. Rather, we should explain our faith without harshness or dismissiveness. When we share the gospel out of love, we truly are loving one another!
Father, You alone are the source of this love, the only kind that meets the claimant hunger of the heart. I pray that I may recognize myself as called to this great task of being a demonstration of this kind of love that would put aside myself for others out of genuine love. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.
Source: God Is Love by Ray Steadman