But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’ 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:14-16.
The most common reason for not giving a reason
One of the reasons you may not want to tell others about The Gospel is fear. You don’t want to be embarrassed, look foolish or are perhaps afraid of being abused. Now there is an irony here, as often it is in giving a sound intellectual answer for the hope that we have that it is the questioner who is under pressure once answered. With good humour and in the right tone it can be fun to show them the funny side of what they have just said. Take comments like, “Live and let live, Just be sincere, that’s their truth, this is our truth” and “you can believe whatever you want.” Ask why they never say any of these things in traffic. “That huge truck is in my lane and headed towards me on my bicycle, oh live and let live.” Nor have I ever met an electrician who has to wire a house say, “hey, let’s put the red wire to the black one and turn on the power while I’m holding all the bare wires in my hand, after all, they have their truth and I have mine!” One can only wonder how the Russian Olympics would go if the contestants could believe whatever they want? “What do you mean I can’t trip up the guy in front or inject this chemical to make me run faster?” How about, “Well I want to run clockwise, if they want to run anti-clockwise that’s OK, we just have to accept each other’s beliefs!”
People may laugh at the christian or think them naive, but either jovially or seriously they will ask for a reason for the hope that you have, so get ready to tell them!
God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (or self discipline). 2 Timothy 1:7 New King James Version
The reason for giving a reason
It is important to give a reason as a lot of people believe we have some sort of blind faith. They see Christians as pitiful ignoramuses with a vacant lot who are worshiping an even bigger empty lot. The only person I can find who exercised Blind Faith was Saul on the road to Damascus, but that was physical blindness, not intellectual blindness! After his eyesight was restored and he had been walking with God some time Paul said:
“I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:12.
Jesus said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37.
‘Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ John 8:32.
We are told to know the truth, learn it, think it, grasp it, count the cost and only then have to decide whether to accept it or not. This is not a demand for blind faith, this is God revealing himself in a reasonable manner first. A salesman wanted me to put down nearly £5000 to exhibit at a new show. That’s a lot of money so I started asking him some questions and he replied, “you’ll just have to trust me!” Trust a salesman I’ve never met with £5000? Now that’s blind faith! God is not demanding blind faith, he’s offering intelligent faith. Here’s who I am, what I’ve done, why and what the effect will be. That’s not blind! That’s reasonable. Let me tell you who really has blind faith:
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4.
People who think you have blind faith need to realise you have a well thought through reason. Then the penny may drop it’s them that are blind and have in fact been blinded. Blind faith is a leap in the dark and God does not asking for that, instead he asks us to give ‘the reason for the hope that you have.’ Faith always has an object, who he is, what he has done, what he can do, why he does it… it isn’t just some make-believe void.
The blessing of giving a reason
Just over twenty years ago some Toronto christians started to teach we all need to build God’s blessing in our lives to such a degree it will somehow bubble over into a UK-wide revival, but the bible says nothing of the sort! Here it says if you suffer for what is right you are blessed. If you want God’s blessing on your life be prepared to suffer for the gospel! As a young christian in the shipyards I really suffered. I wasn’t beaten up or the likes, just worn down with ridicule and so on. In retrospect quite a lot of it I brought on my own head, if not most, but either way it was hard and I got very down. Problem was I’d focus so much on what they were saying about my faults etc. I’d forget to revere Christ as Lord in my heart! If you do determine to give an answer it may result in some hardship, so you must not forget who you are doing this for and that he is with you. Keep your heart and mind on the Lord and he’ll give you the heart and mind you need.
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.
A spiritual sounding reason for not giving a reason
Another charismatic conundrum or cop-out is “Ooh, let The Spirit touch them.” This might sound spiritual, but it is not. The Bible was inspired by The Holy Spirit, so it is The Holy Spirit himself saying, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” This is not the Spirit v’s Reason, this is The Spirit and Reason! People are asking questions, they are looking for answers and The Holy Spirit is telling us to reply to them in a reasonable manner. Christians are not mystics so God expects us to have and show reasonable mind:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2.
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 1 Corinthians 1:10.
…so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:6.
By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people. Romans 16:18.
Giving an answer will probably not get folk saved there and then, but it will without doubt help to clear away some of the obstacles and illusions that are in their minds.
The reasonable way to show reason
give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:14-16.
I once ran a series of online debates on a number of subjects on Facebook. Unfortunately I accidentally deleted the entire series when I disconnected my WordPress blog, but while it was live those who joined in were Christian, Atheist, Agnostic and beyond so I kept an eye on the tone of debate. Later I joined in on some atheist debates online, but this time I wasn’t the moderator and didn’t even know anyone. The levels of abuse, ignorance and inaccuracy was staggering. Folk were rude and really nasty. Sadly, not just the atheists! It’s easy it is to get drawn into cheap and personal slights, but that is not the level. “We cannot pander to a man’s intellectual arrogance, but we must cater to his intellectual integrity.” John Scott. We are here to give a reasonable intellectual argument, not get nasty and personal so if you are dealing with an arrogant idiot, walk away. If you don’t the onlookers just see two arrogant idiots! However, not everyone will be like that, so do be prepared to give a reason… with gentleness and respect.
The cost of giving a reason
keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 3:16.
Slander or Libel is not nice, but you don’t have to defend yourself from every lie that’s told about you. In fact, sometimes those who try to shame you will be the ones left most shamed. If you let slander eat away at you it will affect both your heart and your mind and the bible says,
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
The servant is not above his master and you should not be surprised if some react with slander, but this is a price worth paying if it helps someone see God as he really is. God is not asking anyone to buy into some blind mystical faith, but rather to grasp who he is, what he has done and how they can know him. In that light a little bit of slander against you is a price well worth paying to give a reason for the hope you have!