But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15).
The three highlighted words: “give an answer” are a translation of a single Greek word: apologia. The word apologetics used in the subheading of this blog means to give a rational defence of the Christian faith, or to render account for what we believe.
Why are so many people abandoning the Christian faith today, especially young people? Could it be that the things they learned in Sunday School and heard over the pulpit have not equipped them with answers to the pervasive siren song of the 21st century world?
To be sure, some of these may never have been born again. They tried to live the teachings of the Bible on their own strength, it didn’t work, therefore they concluded there was no power or truth in Christianity. This is a real problem, but not one I am going to cover here.
My concern is with those who have been born again and have been taught some of the basic truths of the Word and how a Christian should conduct himself or herself. They live a fairly consistent life, come to church as often as they can, pray for the lost, and feel that all is well. Yet they come into contact with those who are lost practically every day and when questions arise about their faith they are embarrassed and try to change the subject. If young people see their parents or elders reacting this way to honest questions, they may well conclude that their faith has no real foundation.
Years ago I encountered people whom I was certain were genuine Christians, yet when I asked questions about the meaning of passages of the Bible they would answer something like “I know what I believe and I don’t need to search again.” But I was searching and such an answer was no help or encouragement.
Peter says to be ready to give an answer. This doesn’t mean a lecture where we try to drive home a point. He says it is to be done with meekness and fear. Perhaps we could paraphrase that to say with gentleness, respect and humility. We won’t always have an answer, and that’s OK, too. In fact it is quite a good thing to admit that we don’t know and to offer to search the Word of God to see what it says. This lets the other person know that I look to the Bible for answers, not to myself.
Sometimes it will work to ask questions that could help a person to reexamine the things he or she has taken to be established truth. There may be opportunities to share an experience where God brought home to us the reality of some truth from His Word.
We won’t all do this in the same way, we all have different personalities and are at different points in our journey of faith. But there is something that every Christian can do. Above all, we should never fear that the truths which are so precious are of such a fragile nature that they will crumble to dust and blow away if we examine them too closely. Any belief that is based on the Word of God has a rock solid foundation. By all means let’s take a closer look at it, and invite others to join us in the search.