Following a lesson on personal evangelism, Sam, a barber, left church convicted that he should share his faith with his customers. So the next morning when he arrived at his shop he said, “Today I am going to share my faith with the first man who walks through my door.”
Soon after a man entered and said, “I want a shave!”
Sam said, “Sure, just sit in the seat and I’ll be with you in a moment.” Quickly he prayed a quick desperate prayer saying, “God, help me say the right thing to this man.
Then nervously the barber turned to the customer with his razor in one hand and a Bible in the other while saying “Sir. I have a question for you… Are you ready to die?”
I suppose we have all tried to share our faith with someone when fear and nerves got the better of us and we blurted out the wrong thing. In one of the great verses of the Bible are these words of encouragement. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear”(1 Pet. 3:15)
In considering the context of the verse, Peter is preparing them for persecution. In the previous verses, he has described Christian conduct in various relationships. Now, he turns more specifically to the subject of suffering. This epistle is clear that its readers were or would experience persecution for their faith.
How do you face difficulties? Hardships? Persecution? And suffering?
(1) Sanctify the Lord in Your Heart.
Peter refers to a passage in Isaiah 8:13-14 in this admonition. Here the King of Judah, Ahaz, was facing a personal and national crisis. Assyria was ready to invade Judah. While other kings were making unholy alliances, the prophet warned Ahaz not to do so, but to trust God for deliverance. “Sanctify the Lord of hosts [armies] Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread” (Isa 8:13).
We, too, are faced with the temptation to become entangled in ways that would compromise our faith and hinder our Christian influence. Fear can cause us to shirk from standing firm and faithful. When Christ is set apart in our heart, we need never fear any circumstance or situation. As Warren Wiersbe put it, “our enemies might hurt us, but they cannot harm us.”
(2) Be ready to give a defense for your faith.
While this verse is often used to encourage evangelism, that is not really the point of the passage. Peter is not saying we need an answer to every Bible question, iniquity, or quibble that someone may have. We’re not playing “Bible trivia.”
The English word “defense” comes from the Greek word apologia that refers to “a defense presented in court.” We get the word “apologetics” that deals with Christian evidences in defending our faith.
As we face challenges to our faith, we must develop a reasonable defense of what we believe. Why we believe it. And how it impacts our lives. Often problems present opportunities for us to offer a defense of our faith. Not just in words. But in Christian conduct.
(3) Hold on tight to your hope.
When crises come or persecution arises, the basis of our behavior, and our defense is not rooted in tradition, but in our hope. Indeed our hope is an anchor in times of storm that is firmed fixed in Jesus Christ.
Hope does not wilt. Waver. Or falter. Hope holds on through mental anguish. Physical suffering. Spiritual temptation. Hope does not succumb to the challenges of an unbelieving, godless culture. Our “faith is the substance of things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1)
(4) Our response must be with meekness and fear.
Reacting to unbelievers with arrogance or contempt, will not advance the cause of Christ. We are not called to argue with everyone we meet. Nor “witness” to every customer, client, or stranger on the street. But we are called to holiness. To a sanctified life that serves as a testimony to our Lord.
As we live as a light in the world, this verse helps us both for what it says and what it doesn’t say. “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Ps 118:6).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman