“Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15b, NRSV)
One summer while in youth ministry, I had two different students have someone close to them pass away. For one student it was his grandfather, whom he was very close to who died right before the youth group went on the trip. The other student lost her father unexpectedly during the week.
I was a college student and had only been doing this youth ministry thing for a few years. There were no seminary classes yet completed that would have prepared me.
What I did have was my own experience of my father dying.
And I had the assurance and hope of the resurrection. From this place of experience I was able to be presence with these two high school students during their grief.
The writer of 1 Peter wants his readers to be prepared for the moments when they will be asked to testify to the hope in their lives. The early Christians’ lives, post-Christ, were so different from their neighbors, that it raised a lot of questions.
Mostly because in times of crisis, the early Christians still had hope.
I think it is important to notice what the writer is not saying. He is not saying that we need to give a convincing argument about why what we believe is right and what others believe is wrong. The text is not saying that we should debate over doctrine, nor is it saying that we should leave argumentative comments on Facebook.
What the writer is saying is that we should be prepared to share why we have hope in Christ. The writer does not want his readers to miss an opportunity to share the hope they have in Jesus Christ.
After all, the most effective sharing is of our own personal experiences of Christ.
In what ways can your own experiences communicate hope in Christ?
Lord, prepare our hearts to share the hope we have in you with those around us. May we not be ashamed or fearful to share good news. Amen.