Are we ready to give an answer?

Have you ever learned something the hard way?  If we could pull back from any situation and be completely objective, we would always choose to learn things “the easy way” – through study or practice (or someone else modeling learning the hard way in front of us!).  But, amazingly enough, because of how we are uniquely wired (and fearfully and wonderfully made by God), some of us have to truly learn lessons the hard way!
As my children grew, I promise you that I warned all four of them that the oven was hot.  I did this because I dearly love my children and don’t want anything to ever hurt them.  That being said, two of my four kiddos trusted me and left the stove alone…and two of them received red fingers for possessing the curiosity of our cat (I will let you figure out which of the Green children choose to learn things the hard way)!
In 1 Peter 3:15, the Apostle Peter shares that Christ followers should always be ready to answer the question, “Why do you believe in Jesus?”  What is our reason for having true hope in this often and ultimately hopeless world?
Personally, I have been asked a variation of that question before, and the sad truth is – I wasn’t prepared for it the first time I was put on the spot.  I still remember the context and the person who asked, but the thing I remember the most was flailing and stumbling over my words; trying to explain why I had placed my faith in Jesus Christ.
Ever since that experience (and coming face to face with Peter’s challenge in God’s Word!), I have vowed to be ready when that query comes; essentially, I learned to prepare by failing miserably!  
I remember the first time I ever tried to re-lace a baseball glove, back when I worked at an athletic goods store.  I didn’t seek any direction; I simply thought, “How hard can it be?”, and proceeded to disassemble the mitt. After I had taken all the leather strings from the glove, it collapsed into three pieces of cowhide that I had no idea how to put back together!
A dear friend and mentor bailed me out and taught me the correct method to use while learning (every time you take the old string out of a hole – put a new string in right behind it: trace the path!), which I employed until I had enough experience to simply lace gloves the way I had tried to in the very beginning.
Oddly enough, evangelism works a little like lacing a baseball mitt.  We don’t want to learn the hard way – we need to follow a method that we can practice and learn – and once we are comfortable with that method, we can really grow and improve in how we reach out to lost people.
Most importantly, we need to be ready for the question.  If we are modeling a life lived in Christ to the world around us, we should not be surprised when someone comes to ask us, “Why do you act like that?”  “Why do you live like you do?…what’s wrong with you?”…or some version of the question that acknowledges that we look different from the rest of the world.
Are we prepared to answer? Can we, as Peter challenged, give the reason for our hope: that we belong to Jesus Christ?  My prayer is that we don’t have to learn by flubbing the answer (like I did!) – but, even if we do stumble, ultimately, we will answer in the way where God gets all the glory!

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