“Always Be Ready!”
1 Peter 3:13-22 – May 14, 2023
For years, I used to have a simply marvelous car mechanic. Omar was the absolute best! (Sadly, he retired some years ago.) His auto shop was in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, and I have lived in Evanston for the past thirty years. Do you think that distance stopped me from going to Omar’s shop? Of course not! He was just that good and just that honest about fixing cars. And, I would tell everyone how awesome Omar was. Period.
In our Bible reading today, the apostle talked about telling our story. In other words, telling others about our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s talking about how marvelous He is, and just that honest, too. What are we supposed to be ready to do? Tell our story! It’s as simple as that. And it’s as complicated as that. Peter says that we are always “ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you.”
That’s the situation. Remember, we have been discussing how dangerous it was for Christians – believers in the Lord Jesus – to be honest and transparent about their belief in the one, true God who created heaven and earth. As I have mentioned before in past weeks, we have considered even today how dangerous and toxic many of the governments through the Middle East and North Africa (as in other parts of the world) are for these believers of a fragile minority religion.
Let us listen again to the words from 1 Peter 3: 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere 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, 16 keeping a clear conscience.”
Why are there so many believers through the centuries who have been ready to tell their story and give an account of themselves no matter what, as the apostle says right here?
“We aren’t often in danger of going to jail on account of our faith; we aren’t likely to lose our jobs or get kicked out of school, at least in most parts of the world. So, we look for opportunities to tell our story when questions are asked. When we are asked about our Sunday morning habits, [why we attend church] for example, or why giving is so important to us. Questions like these are great opportunities to share our faith and to tell our story, if we are prepared.” 
But, how are we supposed to follow that calling to tell our story, just like the apostle tells us to do, right here? Honestly, I know some people are hesitant or shy, or downright afraid of talking about our Lord Jesus.
One way you and I can practice telling our stories is by telling them to each other in worship. I have attended Sunday services where there is a regular sharing of stories, or giving testimony. “Testimony is a long-standing tradition in the life of the church and might be worth considering reviving in your local context. We need to hear from one another so that we can become more comfortable speaking to others. We may think our story isn’t dramatic enough for a testimony, or that we aren’t always confident in the motivations or reasons for why we do what we do.”  Isn’t following this command of the apostle reason enough?
Yes, speaking from the heart is incredibly effective for reaching other hearts. There is nothing like an emotional impact to get under people’s guard and make them think hard about the claims of this God who made heaven and earth.
But, let’s examine this verse more closely. Emotion only goes so far. An emotional appeal does not appeal to everyone. “Peter probably has in mind a formal defense of the faith in a law court, but his words apply to any situation where a believer is called on to defend their faith. We must be ready, willing and able to speak for Jesus. Peter actually uses the word apologia, a word meaning “a formal reasoned defense” – a reasoned defense of the Christian faith. What’s being asked of us is to know and understand the gospel and be willing and able to give a reasoned (logical) account for our reliance on Christ.” 
Whether emotional or logical, whether incredibly personal or ordered and reasoned, a testimony is a powerful thing. But, it is not for us to measure how many people are affected by our words, by our stories. “Not how many “souls we have saved.” Not the crowds we drew or the attention we gathered. In fact, it may seem like no one at all is responding, is turning their lives around, is making any change based on our words. That doesn’t matter in the least. Yes, of course, we hope to make a difference in the world around us; we hope to bring influence for the cause of Christ and to make disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world.” 
But, in this, too, we run the risk of becoming puffed up. Are we doing this to put on a good show? Or, is our true purpose our faithfulness to God? At the end of the day, we are to be faithful. God will take care of the response. It is our task – our joy – to faithfully give testimony to what Jesus has done in our lives. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who sees the Godly hope within us.
Just like I was ready and willing to tell anyone about my marvelous car mechanic, Omar! Am I – are you – ready to tell others about Jesus? I encourage us all to consider what God has done in your life, and in mine. Be ready to give testimony to the awesome and daily power of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we trust God, let us share our hope! Be ready! Be ready to tell our stories of what God has done. Alleluia, amen.
(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. #PursuePEACE – and A Year of Being Kind . Thanks!