A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting around a lunch table with a couple of other guys from church talking about a passage in the Bible we had read. The discussion focused in on 1 Peter 3:15 which says, “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.”
One of the guys shared that the verse always intimidated him because he felt he needed to be prepared to win any argument someone started with him.
Many of us feel the same way… “I know I can’t convince people so I will just keep my head down and not pick any fights. There is so much I don’t understand and there are so many people smarter than me.” Others, who tend to like confrontation a little more, may take this verse as a personal challenge to argue people into heaven. They study up and go looking for a debate.
As we continued our conversation we realized that both of these responses were missing the point. This verse isn’t asking us to study up to “win” any argument or effectively prove that God’s Word is true. We are simply called to be ready to share why we have hope.
The rest of the chapter lays out that as followers of Jesus our lives should be different than the world around us. The way we live and respond to the circumstances in our lives should cause the people around us to ask us what is different.
“Why don’t you get as angry anymore?”
“Why are you kind to people?”
“How is it that you seem to be joyful?”
The answer – “I have a confident hope in what Jesus did for me.” (Heb 11:1, Phil 1:6, Heb 6:19)
This hope isn’t just for the future; God is working in me now. I am growing in my knowledge and obedience of God’s Word. God is at work transforming me, rooting out the sin in my life and building in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23): Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control. As these things become a reality in my life, people will begin to notice and ask why. When that happens… “be prepared to give an answer for the hope that you have.”