Has God ever stopped you dead in your tracks while reading His Word?
You’re reading along, absorbing, learning, pursuing—and WHAM! The breaks engage, throwing you back in your seat. Black tire marks mar the pavement, and the smell of burnt tires fills your nostrils.
That was me today.
Our pastors just wrapped up a sermon series that’s still resonating in my heart and mind. It was about “Being a Christian when society thinks you’re irrelevant and extreme.” In fact, that’s the subtitle of David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons’ book, Good Faith, which they used to prepare for the series.
Now, if you’ve read any of my other blog posts or my story, you’re aware that one of the most significant burdens on my heart is the Biblical illiteracy sweeping our nation. The epidemic is spreading from my generation on down, getting exponentially worse with each younger generation. So this message series and book were very relevant to my desire to fight against this issue.
So I’ve been asking God to prepare me for this battle. And to teach me how to prepare others as well.
Then while in my quiet time, I came across 1 Peter 3:15-16. The smell of burnt tires is still thick in my sinuses. It had a profound effect on me, so I looked it up in its context (I put these verses in bold for you):
“Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong! Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:13-18, NLT)
Beloved, we often think the early church had it easy with thousands of men and women putting their faith in Jesus every day and the gospel spreading like wildfire. However, in the midst of our romanticization of this time, we forget the early believers were routinely imprisoned, beaten, and put to death for their faith. Yet they refused to stay silent.
Here in America, we don’t have those particular threats hanging over our head. Nevertheless, many modern day believers across the globe do. But we do face ridicule, rejection, and being ostracized because of our faith. And it hurts. I know, I’ve felt that hurt more times than I can count. Some of those wounds are still fresh while others are scars.
However, when someone asks, “Why do you love Jesus?” All that pain, hurt, and rejection melts away. This dear person just asked me to talk about my most “favoritest” subject: my Jesus and what He’s done for me. This makes all the turmoil and suffering worth it.
We don’t need to be the obnoxious, in-your-face types; we just need to be gentle and respectful. We need to be honest and sincere. And if you are anything like me, when you talk about what Jesus has done for you, you tap into a unique kind of passion and joy that usually draws your listener like a magnet.
Dear One, reread the passage above.
Is it your responsibility to:
- Make this person believe?
- Commit to following Jesus?
No. It’s not. That’s the responsibility of the Spirit.
What’s your responsibility?
- Be eager to do good
- Worship the Christ as the Lord of your life
- Always be ready to share your Jesus story in a gentle and respectful way with those who ask
One of the things repeatedly stated in our sermon series was Christians are viewed as judgmental, unloving, and legalistic by nonChristians. They’re repelled by Christians who shove their faith down their throat. Well, things haven’t changed much. It was the same situation for those Peter was writing to. Just be you. Be loving. Be honest and sincere. Let God take care of the rest.
Remember, people love stories. Especially stories of metamorphic change. Which is why Jesus told stories. And, Beloved, this is why we’re encouraged to share ours. We just need to be prepared to do so!