By Sam Fink
If you’ve known Jesus for more than about 15 minutes, you probably know, or have at least heard a sermon on 1 Peter 3:15. When I was growing up, it was a go-to text to teach, admonish, and when necessary, guilt a young Christian into having an evangelistic stump-speech ready at all times. Here’s the verse:
But in your hearts honor 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…
1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)
To be clear, Peter is probably telling us that we should have our stump speech ready. But even before that, he’s telling us that we’ve got to live with the sort of hope that makes people ask for our speech in the first place.
Since the event at The Capitol last week, I’ve read and heard a lot of opinions from a lot of people. I’ve heard how the violence started quickly almost like it came out of nowhere. I’ve heard the violence was a culmination of years of events and anyone who was paying attention should have know it or something like it was coming. I’ve heard that it was the radical right. I’ve heard that it was the radical left. I’ve heard that it was incited by the President. And I’ve heard that he had nothing to do with it.
The one thing I haven’t heard a lot of is hope-filled speech. For those of us who follow Jesus, this is a problem.
No one is going to ask us to make a defense for the hope that is in us if they don’t know that we have hope in us. And so we have to eliminate speech that is devoid of hope.
Being prepared to give a reason for the hope you have means speaking, living, and acting as though you actually have hope. It means suffering through political leaders you don’t care for without wallowing in hopeless despair. It means holding your tongue in public forums where your emotions of anger, sadness, disgust are stronger than your desire to spread hope. It means speaking in a way where people are much more aware of your hope in Jesus than your vitriol for those who sin. It means saying no to disparaging speech, and instead building up the people around you that they, too, might share in the Hope you have in Jesus.
To do this, it might be helpful for you to stop for a minute and ask: “What is the hope I have in me?”
I bet it’s that you have a Lord whose kingdom is not of this world.
I bet it’s that you can see that sin is the root cause of all of the pain and brokenness and discord in this world, and that because of Christ’s promise to return, the effects of that sin have an expiration date.
I bet it’s that, even if you were the loudest, rudest, most hopeless of us all yesterday, His mercies are new for you today.
And I bet if today you speak as if you actually have this hope, people are going to start asking you to explain yourself.