There’s a bit of a disconcerting verse in 1 Peter 3:15, which says: “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.”
The Bible seems to presume that people are going to be asking us about “the hope we have.”
When is the last time someone asked you about your hope?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to make you feel guilty. In fact, I hope you never feel this way when you read my blogs. And I don’t want to pressure you to constantly be witnessing to people. I really don’t think witnessing out of guilt or pressure results in a believable gospel presentation anyway. People can tell our hearts and motives when we share the gospel with them. I hope when you share Jesus, you do it purely out of overflowing hope in the Lord, and wanting other people to have this hope too.
I think what this question in the Bible is implying is that people should be noticing a difference in us; in the way we carry ourselves.
And I don’t think this deserves the typical Christian answer of, “You should look different from the world.” Christians shouldn’t smoke, drink or swear. If this was the case, then Muslims would stand out the most because many of them even dress differently than the rest of us. Do you really think people are drawn to Christ because of what you don’t do? Honestly, that’s probably what scares them more than anything—they think Christianity means they will have to give up a whole bunch of stuff. People aren’t drawn to Christ because of what you don’t do. People are drawn to Christ because of what you do.
The main difference people should notice in followers of Jesus is in the way we carry ourselves by caring for other people.
Here are two things people need from us in order to ask us about our hope:
1. Joy. When you experience God’s grace and care in your own life, when His Spirit fills you up, you walk in step with the Spirit. The way you know this is happening is when you see the fruit of the Spirit at work in your life: a whole lot of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Do you seem like a person filled with hope? Not a person who is perfect, necessarily, but who has joy. We should never tell people about the joy of Jesus with a frown (or with a fake smile pasted across our face). Out of our deep joy in God, we will finally have something to give someone else.
2. Proximity. People don’t ask you about your hope from hit-and-run witnessing. While I’m excited about all types of evangelism, what Scripture is implying is that people will be around you long enough to see a difference in you. Please don’t feel the need to always witness to people the first chance you get. Be hospitable and friendly and caring. Learn to be a good friend. Lord willing, you can share the gospel with many people in your life, but more than that, you can live closely with many people who need the Lord and be a shining example of God’s grace in your life: After all, He made something out of your mess.