Gentleness and Respect
“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
For years, I’ve come to believe that the goal of healthy, spiritual formation is to understand what you believe and why you believe it. As the scriptures profess, it is the duty and responsibility of every Christian to be able to give an account to others concerning the hope, trust, and faith that is found in their relationship with Jesus Christ.
As profound and powerful as this passage from 1 Peter is, I think it’s important to highlight what the text doesn’t say about the witness that we are called to provide...
First, this text says nothing about being right. Too often, we’ve allowed our Christian witness to become an argument for our brand of belief. While healthy discussions about our personal faith with others (including fellow Christians) need to include descriptions of our beliefs, the goal and aim of such conversations is not to prove that you’ve got everything figured out and that the other person has it all wrong. If we wish to share our testimony in love, we have to be humble about our beliefs and be self-aware that we don’t have everything figured out when it comes to our faith…if we did, then it wouldn’t be faith!
Second, this text says nothing about being arrogant. Imagine that you’re having a conversation with someone of a different faith or no faith at all. Picture in your mind an arrogant person trying to present you with a witness to their belief system, all the while belittling your own and making you sound like an ignorant fool. Tell me, will their belief system appeal to you in any way if this is the way you come to learn about it? Didn’t think so. So imagine that the shoe is on the other foot, and you’re the voice that is trying to tell someone of a different background about your relationship with Jesus Christ. You can’t plant the seed of God’s love in someone if you ruin the soil with your arrogance. God has ordained all of us to be his messengers, and this world can’t hear the message of God’s love if you’re speaking it in a language and manner that automatically turns people off.
Too often, the loudest “Christian” voices in America are those who are easily given over to pride and arrogance, which does a disservice to our ability to speak the truth in love to those that we share life with every day. As we live into the fullness of who God has called us to be, we must do the work of bearing a Christ-like witness to all. We must do the work of understanding what we believe and why we believe it. And we must share those beliefs with others, offering our testimony to the world with gentleness and respect.
We have faith because someone in our lives spoke about the reason for their hope and trust in Jesus Christ in a way that connected with us. Wouldn’t it be great to share that same Good News with somebody today?
- Tyler Ward