“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 Peter 3:15
“You’re not like other Christians. Not only can I tell that you are sincere in your beliefs, but you don’t attack mine and you are willing to listen to me.” That’s a paraphrase of what my friend told me as I sat across from him at the Union, talking about spiritual things. We had met in our 8AM Calculus class, where we both sat in the front row.
It was our freshman year, and I never set out to evangelize him. We had just started talking before class one day, then doing homework and eating together at the dining hall occasionally. One morning I had my Bible with me when I sat down in class and he asked about it. I later found out that he had grown up in a Methodist Church, but never really felt it was for him and walked away from it in high school.
The following semester, we were in another Calculus class together and continued sitting next to each other and teaming up for homework.
We started meeting about every other week to read through a chapter of Matthew and talk about what it meant to each of us. Those ended up being great discussions, and I had the chance to share the Gospel through them.
At the end of the year, my friend didn’t choose to follow Christ, and we didn’t have any more classes together. However, his perception of Christians at the end of the year was very different from the start, and he was able to not only understand my faith in Christ, but also to respect it. I don’t talk to him a whole lot anymore, but we are on good terms and say hi when we see each other around campus.
Sharing Truth in Love
It seems like in our nation today, many people have negative perceptions of Christians. Of course, this is partly because of our sinfulness and hypocrisy, but also because of the way we engage them or fail to engage them with the Gospel. 1 Peter 3:15 gives us some keys to being able to have conversations about Jesus with outsiders.
First, in our hearts we must “revere Christ as Lord.” That means that each one of us should be daily trusting in Jesus and submitting to His rule and reign in our lives. Then, we must “be prepared to give an answer,” not only knowing what we believe but also why we believe it. And finally, when we talk about our faith, it MUST be “with gentleness and respect.”
I think this last one is probably what frustrates non-Christians the most. Most people are happy to discuss spiritual issues, but only when they are confident they will not be ridiculed, attacked, or rejected. Of course, the way to create at atmosphere of gentleness and respect is through relationships. Getting to know someone and letting them get to know you can break down barriers to the Gospel, and open up the door for Jesus.
Where is God calling you to build relationships and to share your faith with gentleness and respect? (Answer: Wherever he has placed you this semester!)