But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15)
How often we turn to the words of ‘the great commission’ before we embark on a missionary trip or a weekend city-street mission. And rightly so. Before we begin our task for God, we ought to have our focus on God’s command to preach the gospel and make disciples.
But what is our intention when heading out on endeavours like these? To glorify God? To win men and women for Christ? To be a faithful witness?
Or is it to try and prove a point?
Living in a society that subtly but powerfully is pushing anything related to God out of the picture, it is possible for Christians to feel uptight, bitter, and perhaps angry towards unbelievers. Seeing the name and work of Christ being cast into the gutter is going to grieve us, but taking it out on people around us isn’t exactly going to give them the desire to flock to the ‘loving’ church.
So when the opportunity for debate or defence arises, we can see this as our time to shine, a chance to show the world how illogical its systems are, and how Christianity is the only acceptable truth. But in the midst of all this hype, our focus is turned from proclaiming the name and work of God, and more on what we can say and how we can bring down our converser, looking for some sort of mic-drop moment. ‘Boom! Satan’s defeated, God wins!’Yes we’ve said God’s name and spoke of His works, but we haven’t really accomplished anything! It’s like going out fishing one day, sitting in the boat for a while when you feel a huge tug on the line. Rather than pulling it in, you just let it go, then tell your friends of the size and strength of the fish you ‘caught’. Unless you pull in the line, what’s the point of fishing?
Jesus mentored his disciples into becoming fishers of men, not educated public speakers who could slam their opponent with one statement to make the audience go wild. Indeed, Peter tells us to answer our critics “with meekness and fear.”Sometimes pride can infiltrate our character, and anything done in that frame of mind will be of no use to God. Remember the record of the Pharisee in the temple (Luke 18:9-14), using such eloquent and theological language to show off his spiritual knowledge and to ridicule the publican who was searching for answers. Are we guilty of this same crime at times?
Next time we are witnessing to a family member, friend, work colleague, or stranger on the street, remember what we are there to do –tell them of the saviour who died to take away their sin, to the glory of God. Answer with meekness and fear, and let the Holy Spirit do its work in their soul.