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 (1 Pet. 3:15).
Several years ago, I had the unique privilege of preaching a sermon to a large congregation in Indiana. When I accepted the invitation, I wasn’t sure what to preach on. I kept asking myself the question, “What message does the church need to hear right now?” Immediately, this verse of being prepared to share the Christian faith came to my mind.
My next thought was: “How will I present this message?” I wanted to be unique. I had watched a Christian evangelist do a fantastic job of acting like a skeptic on stage to a local congregation. He did this to test and see how prepared believers were to give an answer to the hope that they had.
When the apologist got on stage, the first thing he did was informed the audience that when he put on his suit jacket, he would magically transform into an atheist. As he did this, when he turned around, the audience booed him.
The evangelist was aghast to see this reaction so he turned back into his “Christian” role and said: “Hey guys, when we share our faith, we need to do so with gentleness and respect.” Do you think this kind of reaction is loving and kind towards our skeptic friend?”
When I saw this video, I thought to myself: “Wow, this is a really good example of why 1 Peter 3:15 is vital for evangelism. Essentially, no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
Thankfully, when I performed the same stunt to the congregation in Indiana, I got a welcoming invitation. I began to give all the arguments for why I was a skeptic — the problem of evil, theories that disputed the resurrection of Jesus, evolution by natural selection — and then invited them to ask me any questions they had concerning these objections to the Bible. I was impressed by their level of knowledge and was encouraged to see believers prepared to stand for their biblical worldview.
At the end of the sermon, I asked them to do a quick survey, from 1-10 about how prepared they felt to defend their faith against the skeptic (me) on stage. Surprisingly, many people gave themselves a high number, but in my experience, I think there is overconfidence in our Christian community. We all need to practice more humility and really try to understand differing perspectives.
Nevertheless, what impressed me the most about this experience was the attitude this congregation had towards my atheist character. Even if some of their arguments were unsound, a true skeptic will most likely remember how they were treated. That’s why when we share our faith, it’s crucial to be respectful and avoid getting upset. As believers, we are called to be kind, loving, and peacemaking disciples for Christ. May the Lord equip you to do just that. Blessings!
Article written by Chad A. Damitz