One specific way in which Christians are encouraged to be ‘equipped’, ’ready’ or ‘prepared’ is in explaining what we believe. Peter urges his readers, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV). I have often heard this verse used to encourage people to learn a simple gospel outline, which is certainly a good thing to do.
What we sometimes miss is the context, which reminds us that being prepared is more than training and technique. The words immediately preceding are vital: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.” If I allow someone else to be Lord, or make myself Lord, then I will never open my mouth for the Lord Christ. If on the other hand I am seeking his honour, then I might dare to speak for him. The words immediately following are also important: “But do this with gentleness and respect…” This too honours our Lord, because that’s how he treated people.
But how do we “give an answer” and “give the reason”? We will each need to work out a form of words that is natural to us, but how about starting with something like this: “Because God loved me and sent his Son to die for me”, or “Because Jesus died for my sins and rose from the dead”, or “Because the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me”?
Yours warmly, in Christ,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister)