“And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.” (1 Pet 3:15–16 NLT)
Looking to craft your own ready answer for the hope you have as a Jesus follower? Here are four suggestions!
1. Think Before You Speak: We can’t answer for what we don’t know. We have to spend some time up front by first figuring out why we hope. I think this is one of the biggest challenges we face with today’s crazy pace. When asked what problems people encounter when trying to give a ready answer, my son-in-law Chris replied with this answer:
“…one problem is not knowing exactly what we believe because we do not meditate on it or study it enough for ourselves. So when we get in a situation, our hope is not written on our hearts and therefore does not easily come out of our mouths.”
I wholeheartedly agree! Words written on a page help us to understand hope. Words written on our hearts help us live hope. Make the time to meditate, contemplate, and pray until the fullness of hope in Christ is written on your heart.
2. Speak Plainly. Answers aren’t for you… they are meant to be understood by the one asking the question. So use terms they can understand. This is not a slam on anyone’s intelligence, but rather a recognition that we have a specialized language that I call, “Christianeeze.” And not everyone speaks with an understanding of terms like justification, sanctification, or even salvation.
That doesn’t make them evil, that simply makes them unfamiliar. So? We must speak plainly, in terms that THEY would understand… and not in a condescending manner.
3. Answer the way you would like to hear it. Don’t be too quick to overlook the rest of Peter’s instruction. He tells us to have a ready answer, but to answer with gentleness and respect. A good test for your answer is to ask, “Is this the way I would like to hear it?”
This isn’t about “winning,” this is about building some part of a bridge called relationship. Why? Because it’s relationship that will have the most influence over time. (Why do you think your parents were always so paranoid about who you hung out with?)
Think about the person who had the most influence on your Christian development. Did they beat up on you? Or did they show gentleness and respect? Or said another way, did they impact you, or influence you? Gentleness and respect are rare commodities these days… be a broker of them!
4. Start with WHY? If you want to move people with language of the heart, start with “Why?” Simon Sinek has a powerful TED Talk on the power of why that’s definitely worth the watch. Even though Simon talks business, the principles apply to Faith as well!
Starting with why you have hope speaks the language of the heart, and heart language inspires action. Your ready answer isn’t just designed to fill a square, it’s about filling a void in the hearts of humans. The only way that can happen is when people respond to Christ’s invitation. Your ready answer, spoken to the heart, may help them move towards Christ.
THE CHALLENGE: What if you took the time out of your busy day to answer just one question: Why do you hope in Christ? Then, try out these four suggestions and craft an answer within 100 words or less for the hope you have as a follower of Christ!
What else would you add to a ready answer?