But in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make
a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;
yet do it with gentleness and respect.
1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)
Here, Peter mentions a very important task for us as Christians: Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. To make a defence does not mean to apologise for believing in an invisible God. It is a very positive though challenging task. It’s the right job for those who are under the constant teaching of Jesus and have received the tongue of a disciple.
To make a defence means to give a reason for the hope we have. It means that we ourselves understand what we believe and that we can explain it to others. This does not just refer to the basic Gospel truths. It includes answers to the most frequently brought up objections to the faith, for instance: Do Christians believe in three Gods? Why is there so much violence in the Old Testament? If God is all powerful, why does He allow all the evil in the world? As a first step we make ourselves familiar with the answers to those questions. Some good books and Internet sites are a great help here.1 When we are in a discussion and do not know the answer to a difficult question, we admit it and try to find it.
A special characteristic of the tongue of a disciple in this context is that we defend the faith with gentleness and respect, in a God honouring way. We stay calm and kind. We do not force the other person to accept our argument. We treat our conversation partner with humility and respect.
As children’s workers we also want to prepare believing children to make a defence to their friends and peers. We first train them to share the Gospel message using the Wordless Book with confidence and kindness. And then we prepare them for the difficult questions that some of their friends or their friends’ parents may ask. We find out together what these questions are. We give them the answers in simple language. And we practise together how to make a defence. We also prepare them that sometimes peers or schoolteachers may become negative and even hostile, but that the Lord still expects us to show a Christlike attitude when we explain the truth.
The Gospel is under attack. When we are trained to give reasons for the hope that is in us it will first of all help us to keep standing firm in the faith. It will also help the next generation to get their roots into the Word and it may even win some of those who are open to the Gospel but seek answers to their questions. Always be prepared to make a defence… !
1 You may find the following site helpful www.gotquestions.org. It is in many languages!