“But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.”
– 1 Peter 3.14-16
While I was at the Grand Canyon last month, my friend and I walked out to one of the look out points from which you could see much of the canyon at the North Rim. There was a sign that had a graphic of all of the formations visible in the distance – including valleys, mountains, mesas and buttes. While we were standing there soaking it all in an Australian man walked up and while reading the sign began conversation with us. He said, “How does one determine the difference between a mesa and a butte?” My friend and I looked at each other in bewilderment. Neither of us are from the West and neither of us had a clue as to the exact measurements which would distinguish one from the other. So we said, “We are sorry but we don’t know.” He response was, “You Americans” – dripping with disdain and disgust as he turned and walked away muttering about how we do not know our own heritage. Apparently our geological ignorance added to the stereotype that this Aussie had that Americans are uneducated. We sort of laughed it off, excusing ourselves as having never lived in or regularly experienced the desert, but his response has echoed in my thoughts.
Peter, in speaking to the believers who had been scattered because of persecution, exhorts them to live a life of faithfulness: to love those who are persecuting them and to honor the government that is in place even though it is killing them. This lifestyle will lend to people asking why and how they can live in such a way and Peter says, “always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3.15). I have often heard it taught, from this passage, that we should be ready and able to accurately present the Gospel. And while I wholeheartedly agree with that observation, the words “defense” and “account” have caught my attention. They lead me to reflect on the situations in which the apostles often found themselves: in court, before authorities, having been arrested and there tested as to why they were doing what they were doing.
Yesterday I shared the Gospel with a large group of people. And some of the participants came up to me at the end and said, “Can you tell us some more stories about Jesus?”. Always be ready. Have the gospel and your testimony on your mind so that you are able to point people to the King of Kings and unto salvation. But the exhortation here is twofold. We have to be living in such a way that people see and hear the Gospel in our lives. In everything that we do.
What are you doing in your daily life that leads people to wonder about your hope? Does your life represent the world, or does it represent the expectation of a future in eternity with God?