March 17, 2022
1 Peter 3:13-17 NIV
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 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, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:15b)
For decades now I have seen this verse taught as the New Testament banner text for the work of apologetics. For those unfamiliar, apologetics is the field of study wherein people develop reasoned arguments for or defenses of the Christian faith. It was C.S. Lewis (championship apologist) who said, “The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false.” Christian apologetics is a good thing and has helped many skeptics come to faith in Jesus Christ.
I just don’t see 1 Peter 3:15b having anything to do with the field of study that has come to be known as Christian apologetics. I’m willing to be wrong on this and I don’t really care to debate it, but Peter is dealing with people who are coming under withering enemy fire because of their allegiance to Jesus. They are suffering for doing good, being slandered and despised—even facing martyrdom. It just doesn’t seem like Peter is telling them to make reasoned arguments defending the Christian faith to their detractors or to somehow help people get beyond their rational, intellectual objections to the existence of God. Or am I missing something?
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
The answer is Jesus. There is no other answer. The answer is not a doctrinal declaration but an evidentiary fact. The evidence is the witness of a person who has set apart Jesus as Lord in their heart. This person is a qualitatively different kind of person and this difference is most purely proved in the midst of trials and hardships. It is most demonstrably proved when a person gladly suffers for doing good and returns good for evil.
Who does that? Jesus does. He is the answer to everyone who asks and he is the reason for the hope we have. It’s why the saying is true, “The best defense is a good offense.” If you will notice, Jesus never played defense—always offense. Here’s what’s most confounding about Jesus. He wasn’t playing to win. He was playing to lose. And that’s how he won the victory of all victories. This is Peter’s whole case. His entire case rests on one witness.
Peter is telling the Christian merchant in Bithynia who has just been publicly slandered and maligned because he follows Jesus to bless this person and pray for him and speak well of him in return. Then a neighbor asks this merchant why didn’t he defend himself against them for this malicious attack and is further confounded by the Christian’s stunning move to bless and not curse his enemy. Peter says to the maligned merchant, “This your moment. When they ask, be ready to tell them them your secret (aka 1 Peter 3:15a). Oh, and one more thing, be respectful, even gentle about it.”
Friends of Jesus, it’s time to stop playing defense. It’s time to play offense. And know this: We will lose a lot of games, but we will come out undefeated.
Now chew on this for the rest of the day:
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. . . . 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:18, 25)
Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. This is the rock of ages. Thank you for the foolishness of the Cross, for showing us that the way up is the way down, that the least is the greatest and the last is the first and that in your Kingdom mountains are moved by faith and love wins by losing. Holy Spirit, would you lead me to be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks for the reason of my hope—not a pat answer or a religious answer, but an answer that radiates with the power of God. Teach me to play offense. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.
How do you deal with the confounding nature of Jesus, his Gospel and his Kingdom? Are you prepared to give an answer for the reason for the hope in you to everyone who asks? I’m asking. ;0)
For the Awakening,
P.S. NOW IS THE TIME– REGISTER FOR NEW ROOM CONFERENCE
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