Perry Emerick – Mesa Campus Pastor
Recently at a Mesa Ironman men’s bible study, Blake Henry, the Student Life Group’s pastor, spoke to us about gentleness, one of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit. In the course of his teaching, he shared the passage from 1 Peter 3 which states,
“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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” 1 Peter 3:15-16
The emphasis was on sharing our faith with gentleness and respect, certainly something that is not only important, but oddly lacking in many exchanges today, especially in the age of social media and 140 character responses. So many actively jab at or passively respond to others (too often other believers) and rarely, does it seem, with gentleness.
But what stood out to me more than the admonition for gentleness and respect was the direction from Peter on when to respond in the first place and what to respond to. Did you catch it? Let me share it again:
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
There are two things that jump out to me in this passage that I think rarely happens.
First, we are to answer those who ask. We are a culture that loves to give our opinion, even when we are not asked for it. Many of us have very strong feelings about something and feel compelled to share it even when we were not invited to. Social Media is an interesting medium because the mere posting of something invites a response that implies wanting an opinion. The like button, which now includes a variety of emotions, is the giving of our opinion. And we love to give our opinion, from blog posts (such as this), to tweets, to everything else. Yet this passage includes a very interesting qualifier about what is being asked:
“…the reason for the hope that you have.”
This is the phrase that stopped me in my tracks. I tried to think back to the last time someone asked me to explain the hope that I have. Don’t get me wrong, I have spoken of the hope that I have in many contexts, certainly as part of my role as a pastor. But to be honest, I don’t know if outside of my position I have been asked very often about the hope that I have in Christ. Which leads me to ask a much harder and personal question, “does my life project or reflect the hope I profess? If so, hope in what…or who?” I think it is so easy for us to project situational hope in temporal things.
I hope my football team wins this season.
I hope my kids do well in school.
I hope I get that new job.
I hope I do well on this project.
I hope I can go on that vacation.
I hope that I don’t get sick.
Our lives are filled with a variety of hopefulness, none of which are bad. But how often do our lives actually and noticeably project the hope we have in Christ, especially to the degree that would compel someone to ask us to explain it? For those who profess faith in Jesus, we have available an unshakable hope found in the person of Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the one who carried our sin and shame all the way to the cross, and offers us not religion or law, but love and hope… a relationship. We don’t have to be hopeful that we are found good enough, but rather place our hope in the one who is good, and offers his goodness to us in faith. It is our hope in Jesus that leads us to live by faith in the one who set us free…free from law and free to live in Christ. To put it plainly, our hope is Christ!
As the author of Hebrews wrote, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
Which hope do you profess? Is it Christ, or something else?