I’m never more blessed than when I am flying somewhere or sitting in a coffee shop and I’m asked about my faith. Not long ago, I was flying to a meeting and was asked by the person sitting next to me what I was reading. The premise of the book concerned Christian ministry. Believing this was an opportunity to release love, listen to this person, and eventually let Jesus be evident, I took the risk to share my heart. That two-hour flight went by quickly, but what the Holy Spirit did will most certainly last a lifetime, if not for all eternity.
First Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” This verse is often used by every apologist who defends the faith. The concept of apologetics is drawn from the word defense (apologia) which means to state a plea or reasonable argument for something. The apostle Paul gave a strong defense for the gospel in Acts 17 and 19, and while in Ephesus he reasoned daily for two years until everyone in Asia heard the Word (Acts 19:10).
I believe every seasoned believer should know why they believe that Christ is the way and not merely a way (see John 14:6). We should be able to stand with conviction defending the truths of the Bible and state why we believe every Word is inspired by God (see 2 Timothy 3:16). Christians should not fold when asked how Christianity stands up against the Muslim religion for example or what makes Christianity any different from the Latter Day Saints. Are you able to give a defense for the hope that is in you?
However, one of the most challenging phrases in this verse is when Peter writes that we’re to “always be ready” to make a defense. It is one thing to be able to defend the gospel, but it’s another matter to live ready at all times. To be ready (hetoimos) means that I’m always poised in Christ’s presence; it means that I’m in the right position with Christ to talk about Him. It means that no one is going to catch us having a bad day with Jesus or in a spiritual slump. Peter says that we are to always be ready. Think of that: This means every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day, of every week, of every month throughout all the years of our life we are to be in the right position spiritually and emotionally to speak up for Jesus Christ.
This verse challenges us to live more aware of His presence in our life than anything else around us. It means that we’re not to be consumed with anything more than Christ. Circumstances should never be the defining reality for how we live. After having been beat, marred beyond recognition, and greatly persecuted, Jesus was hanging on the cross bearing the sins of the entire world. At that moment a thief beside Him said, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Can you imagine Jesus saying, “Look, you have no idea how difficult today has been for me.” Rather, in that moment of agony while carrying the weight of the world Jesus was poised to release grace to someone.
No matter what we might be walking through we are to remain in the proper position with Christ to release an answer for the hope that we have. I believe the secret to living ready is found in the first part of 1 Peter 3:15, “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.” There has to be a moment in every believer’s life when they determine that Christ is enough. It’s the moment when everything else fades by comparison and we settle the issue of who will take total precedence in our life. If Christ is the Lord of our heart, then we fear nothing or no one. There will be no room for anxiety, distraction, and preoccupation. If He’s the Lord, then we live in rest amidst a restless world. When we know that He is the Lord of everything in our life we live pressed into His grace, and even though we are challenged on every front we stand ready to give an account for the One who has redeemed us.
Our response, then, to someone asking us about our faith is always with “gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). We are not shaken, tense, stressed, or filled with angst over someone’s line of questioning. I would argue that any response we give to someone asking about the hope that we have is backed up by a life that is well lived. In other words, our life becomes the message that we’re defending. In actuality, the best defense of the gospel is a life well lived.
Let’s not just give people a message; rather, let’s become the message.
Jesus, I choose to sanctify you as Lord of my heart. Empower me to live ready, every moment, to give you away to anyone who asks, amen.