I Peter 3:15 says, “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.” (1 Peter 3:15)
I love how that verse marries both our words (“be prepared to give an answer”) and our manner (“with gentleness and respect”). Both are important when we think about being intentional in our faith sharing. We need to be able to tell people why we believe what we believe but we need to do it in a manner that demonstrates respect for others.
Don Posterski, a Canadian evangelist, tells of his friend Dave who was confronted about his faith one day in the chemistry lab. He had spoken openly of his relationship with Christ with a fellow medical student some weeks before. So he was a bit surprised when his friend said accusingly, “Dave, I had a long conversation with our prof this weekend and we concluded that all you religious people are psychologically sick.”
Dave’s immediate reaction was one of hostility and to lash back with a verbal insult. But then, it’s as if God brought to his mind our text from 1 Peter. He lifted his head so his eyes would meet his friend’s, and he took the bait that he had been offered, saying gently and respectfully: “So you think I’m psychologically sick. Go ahead. Support your charge.”
Posterski then asks a series of penetrating questions, “How would you have handled the incident? What would your strategy be in the discussion that followed? If Jesus had been faced with that predicament, what do you think he would have done?”1
Take some time today to think about those questions. Perhaps write out your answers and try to think of ways that you would have extended the conversation. How would you respond with gentleness and respect? Scripture calls us to be prepared to witness both with our lips and our lives. May God find us faithful.
With thanksgiving for you,
1. Don Posterski, Why am I afraid to tell you I’m a Christian? (Downers Grove, Illinois, InterVarsity Press, 1983) 36.