Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
1 Peter 3:15–16
It can feel illogical to pre-plan for spontaneous faith questions on our frontlines. Equally, nervously praying for boldness might seem like a contradiction.
Let me make the case for both.
Surely, when Peter calls us to be prepared to give the reason for our hope in Jesus, this sort of readiness is going to take some planning time. And I particularly need to pray for boldness if I’m anxious or when nervousness is not far below the surface.
Throughout this Lent series we’ve considered the benefit of greater confidence on our frontlines. If we’ve prepared for those spontaneous conversations, our competence grows. As we gain competence, so our confidence increases.
Sometimes, being prepared equates to a reluctant ‘if I really must’, ‘if no-one else is available’. But Peter’s challenge is much more positive. Here, being prepared implies standing by, ready, wanting, and willing, having done the necessary planning.
Peter was writing to Christians scattered in a wide variety of settings, some of whom may have faced persecution and needed to be prepared to explain their faith at formal trials. But his words suggest ordinary, everyday conversations. He is calling people to be ready for the informal, spontaneous conversations that can happen anywhere.
When our friends and colleagues ask us about yesterday – and our honest answer includes attending church – sometimes we’ll be asked a next-level follow-up question. Peter challenges us to be prepared for times like this.
As these verses make clear, we should strive for answers that are reasonable – so they include the reason for the hope. Answers that are personal – describing hope that I have. Answers that are calm and kind – such that my words are conveyed with gentleness. And answers that are reverent – with respect for others and our God.
Even if our delivery has all these hallmarks, Peter suggests that our answers won’t always be well received. But competence will help us through. We can know we tried prayerful and carefully to do our best.
And whenever we fail to be ready and willing, there’s forgiveness and a new start available. Peter knew this better than most.
After Jesus was arrested, Peter was questioned about his relationship with him. He wasn’t prepared and his words could not be considered reasonable, personal, calm, kind or reverent. But here he is – back on track – through forgiveness and grace.
So today, on my frontlines, I nervously pray for greater boldness and carefully prepare for the questions I hope will come.
Director of Church Relationships, LICC
How can you be better prepared for the conversations that might arise on your frontline this week? Join the conversation in the comments below.