Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keep a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior may be ashamed of their slander.
~ 1 Peter 3:13-16 ~
Found right in the center of this passage is an oft quoted verse by many christians, including myself. “Always give an answer for the hope that is in you.” It is a sort of motto, if you will, of many if not all christian apologists. But as with any verse, context is important in order for someone to understand its full meaning.
I was raised on the idea that I should know what I believe and why I believe it It is a good thing to keep in mind when deciding what ideology should be accepted and why the others should be rejected. This is useful for politics, science, social issues, and most of all, faith. If you don’t know why you believe something, then why on earth would you stand behind it or attempt to defend it? Yet here, we are reminded that, as christians, we should always be prepared to give an answer for what we believe. Why? Because people what to know why we have this hope within us.
Why? Why on earth would we have hope in a man we have never met, one that lived and died 2,000 years ago, and be willing to live and die for him? Why would we follow this great teacher to the death? Why would we leave everything we know in order to bring people to the knowledge of another truth? Why, the question that everyone asks.
The answer is simple: by no one else can we be saved.
This was not just a man, but God. The only God, the one who created this world and a people in His image. And He did not leave us to exist alone in our sin, but took it upon Himself to die for us. To redeem us. To buy us back from our sin we were enslaved to. That is a love unknown to this fear-filled world. But it didn’t end there! Because this isn’t a dead man and His words that we follow, but one who rose again. In fact, if He did not rise from the dead then no one would. But the fact is that He did and with that conquered death. In Him, not only will my earthly death be conquered, but I will also live spiritually. He was more than a great teacher, more than a speaker of new truth. He was the one from which the first words came to be and the one in whom all truth resides. After all, He is the way, the truth, and the life. None came come to the father and His grace, His salvation, except through Him. Why do we follow Jesus the Christ? because He loved us so much as to not let us dwell in darkness, but instead came to save us and bring us towards the light.
Thus, we have no fear in doing what is right when the world calls it wrong. We know Christ personally, we know His life and the cost of following Him. When we suffer, we are indeed blessed because our suffering does not come close to he reward we will receive in Heaven.
Instead of fearing death or not receiving recognition from this world, we turn our eyes to the author and sole devotion of our faith. We do not fear death because Christ already conquered it. We do not seek the treasures of this world – fame, fortune, and the like – because we know that those trinkets don’t last. Instead, we are already promised a treasure that will never fade away.
When we put Christ first in our hearts, we have no fear. As He is perfect love, and perfect love casts out fear, then what should we be afraid of? With Christ in our hearts, we can boldly profess our faith and the reason we have this great hope within us.
But dear Christians, when we do this, do not forget the second part of this verse: with gentleness and respect. In other translations: with meekness and fear. We are not called to shoving the truth down people’s throats nor being haughty about what we have. The great thing about love is that it is given and received freely, and the same is with the Gospel. Nothing good comes of force. We are called to speak the truth, but to speak the truth in love. We are all sinners, and all in need of forgiveness. Let us not forget that when we give a defense.
It is written that they will know we are Christians by our love. Our reputation should precede us well. Let us not tarnish God’s Word by our misdeeds. We are sinful and fallible, we all still need grace! So let us walk in a way worthy of our calling in order that others may ask why we have this hope. And when they do, give them the answer. Tell them the reason for your joy! And do it with the love that Christ first showed us.
We are all in need of grace. Dear Christians, be willing to show how grateful you are for receiving it. I know that I would be lost right now without it.