And when I think about HOW I should share my faith, the Great Commission is largely silent. The Commission is all about WHY, but not about HOW. So when it really comes down to it, I’ve got to look elsewhere to try to understand HOW it is that I am to share my faith. And it turns out that there is some great advice to be found in the scripture:
1 Peter 3:15:
But in your hearts set apart 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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
I think this passage is SO key to who God is calling me to be. It is certainly one of the very clearest descriptions of how we are to share our faith. We are called to share in the form of a RESPONSE! That’s right. So many times in the past I was completely ignorant of this command. I can remember a number of times when I was quick to give ANSWERS long before anyone actually had a QUESTION! This is backward thinking, and when you really think about it, it is completely ineffective. In fact, it is often insulting to the person with whom you are talking. People are often offended when we presume to have answers to begin with! Let’s face it, the Gospel is inherently offensive. It describes the TRUE nature of people (fallen) and makes absolute claims about the nature of reality (that can be offensive in our pluralistic, relativistic culture). I don’t believe we should try to soften the offensive nature of the Gospel. But why are we eager to ADD offense to the Gospel by presuming to offer answers even before someone asks a question?
1 Peter 3 seems to be telling us that it is our responsibility to give an ANSWER, but this requires us to understand the nature of answers. Let’s face it, answers require questions FIRST. And I believe this opens up an exciting possible for us as Christians. The opportunity to redefine who we are. The opportunity to become what it is that God would have us become. The chance to become a new (and very ancient) kind of Christian. A “Responsive Christian”. More on this in the next post…