1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts set apart 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.
I have quoted this verse countless times in preaching and talking with people about evangelism. The most effective evangelism isn’t when you decide to evangelize somebody, but when their observation of you and your lifestyle prompts them to ask you about it. Life in Christ is indeed incredibly rich in ways that the world cannot touch, and the more people become aware of that, the more they will desire it for themselves. The specific element of that that Peter mentions here is hope. Frankly, optimism is attractive! It has also been shown that hope or the lack of it is a major factor in patient survival in a wide variety of diseases. The thing about hope in Christ is that it isn’t dependent on how things turn out here, because it includes eternity with Him. We call someone who is unfailingly optimistic a “Pollyanna,” often meaning that they fail to recognize reality, but Christ-centered hope is very realistic, saying, “I may die a horrible death, but that is a minor detail compared to eternity with my Lord.” The devil does all he can to steal our peace and joy, but when we have an eternal perspective, he can’t do that. Paul put it this way: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) When we have that assurance, people around us will want it too. However, we cannot have it without what Peter says in the first part of this verse: living with Jesus as your Lord. If we are using Christianity as window dressing, just doing our own thing, we certainly won’t have an attractive, eternal hope, and our lives will be no different from those around us.
I have commented several times over the past few years in particular that if I didn’t have faith I would give up hope. The world is a mess indeed! However, it’s been over 20 years since the Lord assured me personally that He’s not happy about the current state of things either, but that He’s got the perfect end game set up. In the US, recent elections and court cases have given a lot of people hope they didn’t have before, but such hope is by definition temporal, for the here and now. Such hope is nice and isn’t to be discounted, but it can’t hold a candle to eternal hope in Christ. In recent years I have been very politically involved, at least emotionally, but I must never let my priorities get reversed. Things on earth are important only to the degree that they help or hinder people getting into and maintaining a right relationship with their Creator, who loved them so much He sent His Son to be their Savior and die in their place. People will never have eternal hope until they know and believe that, so my task is, as Peter said, to be available to share that marvelous truth with anyone at any time, for their salvation and God’s glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the approaching Christmas season. Every year I somewhat dread it because of all the busyness, but all of those events are opportunities to share the hope that is in Christ. Help me not draw back from any of it, but rejoice to be Your messenger, drawing many to repentance and faith, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!