Ready For Defense
1 Peter 3 contains a well-known verse to many that is often used as a stand-alone principle. The verse is 1 Peter 3:15 which says “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; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” I think it’s often used to encourage us to be ready to share with someone, who may ask us, about our faith. I think the idea that is presented and received is the idea of being in the local supermarket and someone behind you in line asks you where you worship or why you worship where you worship.
That scenario does happen from time to time but honestly ask yourself when was the last time it happened to you? When was the last time some approached you out of the blue and asked if you were a Christian and if so where you worship. Don’t get me wrong, we do need to be prepared to share that with others and encourage them to “come and see” as Philip said to Nathanael in John 1. We need to be prepared to answer the questions of others when asked about why we worship the way we do. But…is that really what this passage is talking about?
Giving A Defense Is Only Necessary When You’ve Been on the Offense!
What’s interesting to me in 1 Peter 3 is that if you read that verse in its context, what seemed to prompt the question regarding their faith wasn’t mere curiosity, it was persecution. Beginning in v.8 Peter is talking about being persecuted for righteousness sake and to remain steadfast under such persecution. It was through the lens of persecution and trials that Peter admonishes them to be ready to give a defense…because they’ve obviously been proactively displaying their faith. Sure we need to be ready to share with those who are merely curious but still today we live in a society that really demands that everyone mind their own business and asking those kinds of questions are considered inappropriate and politically incorrect. We need to be ready to give a defense of the reason we have that hope within us as we’re proactively proclaiming Christ crucified to a lost and dying world.
Foundational Reasons for Our Hope
While the reasons for the hope that is within us will no doubt vary person to person as those reasons take on personal significance to each one, I think from Peter’s text there are some foundational reasons that we all can share in common and prove to be a starting point for our defense.
Because There Has To Be More than This World – 1 Peter 3:12
Verse 12 points out a simple and powerful truth that sadly many reject. “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” There is a God and He establishes the standard. It’s understanding that this life is not all about me…it’s actually not about me at all but rather its ALL about Him.
Because Christ Suffered What I Should Have – 1 Peter 3:18
I have hope because Christ suffered what I should have. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit…” When you grasp the first reason you realize there is a standard and that action is required and that there are consequences for not obeying that standard. Thanks be to God through His Son that I can be forgiven
Because I Want To Enjoy God-Defined “Good Days” – 1 Peter 3:10-11
Everyone wants good days. For those of us in America especially we’re taught to purse the “American Dream” and our goal is good days and plenty of them. Well again man doesn’t define those kinds of things. Man tries to define what brings happiness and joy but man’s pursuit is never ending. I have hope within me because I know that by following Jesus I will enjoy God-defined good days. No matter what comes at me in this life I can have peace through Christ Jesus and know that I’m being refined and molded into something greater.
Because I Want a Clean Conscience – 1 Peter 3:16
Doesn’t everyone want a clean conscience? Isn’t a clean conscience the true means to be able to sleep well at night and to wake the next morning with joy in our hearts? Sure it is. Peter says we have hope because we’ve obeyed the gospel for a clean conscience. Not a clean conscience in the sense that we don’t feel regret and shame for sinning against the One we love but that He is faithful to forgive us those sins.
Because I Want To Be With God – 1 Peter 3:22
Lastly I think we have that hope within us because we want to be with God. There’s no doubt that most would say the top reason they obeyed the gospel is because they want to go to heaven. That’s a great thing because after all, the alternative is hell. No one wants that. But I’d also suggest that as our faith grows that answer evolves into a strong desire to be with God. Same answer? Sure they share some eternal qualities but I think Paul said it best when he said that “I press on toward the GOAL for the PRIZE of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
What about you? Did you come up with other reasons for the hope that is within you? Hopefully these 5 are a great starting point for us and we can build upon them in our preparation to give a defense for the hope that is with us.