Text: 1 Peter 3:15 | Listen to Message
1 Peter 3:15 urges believers to “always [be] 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.”
In other words, if you want to share your faith, you must do 4 things:
1. You must have regular interaction with non-Christians.
The Bible assumes Christians will be friends with non-Christians. Not “pretend” friends for the purpose of evangelizing them, but actual friends. This means genuinely loving them, caring about them, and spending time with them. You may be Christlike in many ways, but if you’re living like a hermit, you’re not living on mission like Jesus. So get out there and make friends!
Peter says unbelievers are going to ask you about patterns they’ve observed in your life. This presupposes that unbelievers are seeing our lives up close because we’ve taken the time to build meaningful relationships with them. We’ve gone out of our way to be the best family members, the best neighbors, the best coworkers, and the best friends, we can possibly be.
For those of you who struggle to make new connections with non-Christians, here’s a list of 10 simple ways to be missional (borrowed from Tim Chester):
1) Eat with non-Christians.
2) Walk, don’t drive.
3) Be a regular.
4) Hobby with non-Christians.
5) Talk to your coworkers.
6) Volunteer with nonprofits.
7) Participate in city events.
8) Serve your neighbors.
9) Work in public places.
10) Leave your house some evenings.
2. You must live a life of Christian distinctiveness.
This second point is important. Many Christians have close relationships with non-Christians . . . on their terms. We’ve become like them. We talk like them. We act like them. We think like them. We live for all the same things. We sin all the same sins. These friendships might be real, but they’ll never lead to Christ.
Peter says your non-Christian friends ought to see something strikingly different when they get to know the real you. They should see that you have a hope – a firm and joyful confidence – that they don’t have.
If non-Christians are never asking you about your hope, this begs the question, “Why not?” Is it possible you’re so compromised and carnal, they don’t even know you claim to be a Christian? Is it possible you keep quiet and censor your faith around them? Is it possible you’re spending all your time with other Christians – or all alone – and so you don’t have any meaningful relationships with unbelievers?
To get where you want to be, you must live a life on mission – a life radically in step with the Gospel.
3. You must acquire knowledge and wisdom.
Peter says you’re going to get asked about your faith if you live on mission. And then the word he uses for your explanation, your defense, is the word “apologia” (from which we get our word “apologetics”). Your answer is supposed to be a reasoned – and reasonable – defense of the Gospel. This is your opportunity to tell others how the grace of Jesus Christ has completely transformed your life.
It just makes sense that, in order to answer effectively, you need both knowledge and wisdom. You need to learn true facts about the Gospel and its effects on your life. But you also need the wisdom to know which facts, which narratives, which facets, of the Gospel to share – and when.
4. You must be winsome.
Many Christians, in defending their faith, take on a tone of moral or intellectual superiority. Or they come across as proud and argumentative. Or they’re dismissive of the doubts and objections of others. Or they simply don’t listen – so they speak to questions that aren’t being asked, while ignoring the ones that are.
Peter says when you talk to unbelievers about the Gospel, you must do so “with gentleness and respect.” Be humble. Be passionate about what you believe, but don’t be a bully. Be respectful of that other person. Respect them as a human fashioned in God’s image and for God’s glory. Respect that their concerns probably have a story behind them. Respect that it’s hard to change. Be patient and trust God.