12/9 1 Peter 3:15

15 . . . but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

Peter tells his readers in verse 14 that if we suffer for doing what is right, we will be blessed by God. That is why we shouldn't fear persecution. We should always honor Christ as our Master. Christ isn't instructing us out of selfishness, but out of His holiness. What He asks of us, He asks because it is the right thing to do. With that in mind, we come to the part of the verse that is often quoted.

The defense we give for our hope can be given to those who persecute us. This is the key verse for the apologetic ministry. The word translated "defense" is the Greek word apologia. Apologetics is a reasoned defense of the Christian faith. One of the great apologists of our time is Ravi Zacharias. I highly recommend his books and radio program, Let My People Think. (See rzim.org.)

Those who oppose Christianity have been developing arguments for two thousand years. If we are to be prepared to answer serious inquiries about our faith, we need to be equipped by studying God's Word and by listening to those like Ravi who have more experience grappling with these challenging questions.

Consider: The last words of our verse tell us to give our reasons with gentleness and respect. The gospel challenges people's assumptions about life and their priorities. It is no wonder that those who challenge us can become irate. However, we must always respond in the Spirit of Christ if we are to be heard, gently persuading them and respecting them as another being made in the image of God, for whom Christ died. We don't debate to win the argument but to persuade souls of God's great love for them.