…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. 1 Peter 3:15
I hate getting blindsided. Begin caught off guard. You feel stupid and you look stupid.
Have you ever walked into a situation you were ill prepared for?
Last year, on the day of parent teacher conferences I asked my kids, “Is there anything I need to know before we go? I don’t wanna be surprised. I better not be surprised.”
Trinity, my oldest, says, “uh….I need to tell you something….” She’s a great student who works hard and earns good grades, but she wanted to give me a heads up that I might hear something I wasn’t expecting. My wife and children tell me that I can sometimes overreact when I am caught off guard.
Life can be filled with twists, turns, potholes and unexpected challenges. It is very rarely a straight shot. Unprepared for turns and obstacles can cause us to overcompensate, avoid or become defensive. The same is true when we have unexpected opportunities to extend hope to our neighbors by sharing the Gospel of Hope.
Have you ever articulated your hope in Jesus? In writing or in conversation? You should write down your story and share it with someone. Another helpful practice is to memorize key scriptures that communicate the gospel in clear, bitesize nuggets. these are what I call Gospel Nuggets. Here are a few verses that may help:
- Rom 5:8; 1 Tim 1:15 – God saves sinners.
- 2 Cor 5:17 – Anyone can become a new creation in Christ.
- 2 Cor 5:21 – The Cross is the exchange of Jesus’ best for my worst.
- Rom 3:23; 6:23 – Our efforts bring death but God’s Gift gives life.
- Rom 8:1 – Forgiveness, healing, and hope are in Jesus.
- 1 Pe 5:7 – God cares for you.
You can also visit the Know Jesus page on our website for more gospel nuggets that communicate clearly and concisely.
Additionally, you should pray. It is amazing how many times God prepares my heart and mind as well as my words when I pray for opportunities to share the gospel as well as for wisdom and clarity. Its a supernatural effort that requires a super natural effort.
When I was a new Christian I was so excited to share my faith that I was abrasive and sometimes argumentative. I had a difficult time understanding why my friends couldn’t see what I saw. It was spiritual arrogance that caused me to be dismissive and hurtful rather than helpful.
When an opportunity to “give a reason for the hope that is in you” presents itself, remember there is a person you are dealing with. Don’t dismiss the reality of their pain and efforts to answer life’s questions.
Taking the time to understand where they place their hope, appropriately applying the gospel hope to their lives. Show how Jesus is greater.
Idols are false gods that make false promises. Extending false hope. They misrepresent our heart’s deepest needs and distort good desires. For example, we all have a desire to be known deeply and loved fully. Idols twist this desire and present narcism and vanity as the solution (“how many friends/likes do I have on social media, etc.) The desire for comfort in affliction is twisted and the solution is found in a stunted sexual intimacy. And on and on and on it goes.
When desires are twisted the real solution is missed. The symptoms are clues to a deeper need. A need that only God can meet. Show how Jesus is the True and Better solution to their deepest needs.
When you earn the right to be heard by affirming legitimate desires yet displaying how those desires are only truly met in Christ, you are giving a defense for the hope that you have – with gentleness.
Earn a hearing (1 Corinthains 9 / Jude 6). Don’t assume you have earned the right to be heard. Don’t set up straw men to knock down, minimize their arguments, reasons and concerns. Instead demonstrate that you understand their hopes and dreams. Speak sensibly, using the normal vernacular and not churchy words that you barely understand yourself.
Show them the respect you want them to show you.
In your Hearts Honor the Lord as holy:
Jesus is the Lord. If Jesus is not YOUR Lord, it will eventually come out. Is your hope in Jesus genuine? If you do not have “hope in you,” how can you give a defense to it?
It can be easy to memorize a bunch of facts, verses, and truths without every holding on to them for myself. It is much like a chef who prepares many meals yet never tastes the delicacies he is preparing.
Today, honor the Lord as holy.
Holy Spirit, empower me walk in light of the Hope that is in me. Amen.