‘’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).
It was Peter who wrote these words some years after he had exemplified them on the day of Pentecost. What he said in his sermon was a response to questioning (12). Something had happened in the church/to the church, that grabbed the attention of the masses. Suddenly it was a city on a hill that couldn’t be hidden.
This passage is instructive about our witness to Christ. Here are some vital ingredients:
- Try to answer the questions people are asking. More often than not, we need to start where they are; scratch where they itch. ‘’What does this mean?’’…’’this is that’’ (12, 15).Michael Green said you need to row your gospel ‘boat’ around a person’s life, and decide where is the best place to ‘put in’. What questions are they asking?
- Answer with courage (14). This is the second time in ‘Acts’ that we read about Peter standing up. It’s not nice to be ‘’made fun of’’ (13), and scorn/mockery can easily turn a person into a ‘shrinking violet’. But not so with Peter.He ‘’raised his voice’’. In the face of severe enemy fire, he blew the whistle, climbed out of the trench, and led the charge. (This is the difference the Holy Spirit can make in a person’s life. It was the same Peter who only recently, under great pressure, had denied His Lord. See Acts 1:8. Peter is living proof of this text);
- Answer with clarity: ‘’let me explain this to you’’ (14). Do your best to make yourself as clear as possible. If at all possible, polish the windows of your words until they sparkle and gleam;
- Realise you’re not alone: ‘’Then Peter stood up with the Eleven…’’ (14). Peter took the lead. He ‘’addressed the crowd’’; but he was aware that he was not out there exposed and alone. He was the ‘centre forward’; he was about to put the ball in the back of the net. But he never forgot that he was part of a team. He must have felt their solidarity with him; felt them pulling for him;
- Be immersed in the Bible (16-21). Peter knew his Old Testament Scriptures really well, and inspired by the Spirit, he was able to draw out the right words for the context. Part of being able to communicate clearly involves getting to know the Bible as well as possible, and thinking through how to put its message across.
When all is said and done though, we know that the ‘seed’ will fall into different kinds of soil. So ‘’listen carefully’’ (14) is an important message. A failure to respond does not necessarily come from a failure on the part of the messenger. It may just be that the good seed has fallen into poor soil.
PRAYER: Help me Lord to always be ready to answer the questions others ask about my faith in you.