Friday, June 13, 2008

Always Give an Answer

1Pe 3:15 "...but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer, to every man that asks you, a reason for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and respect."
This is an interesting verse. It usually is applied to the idea of witnessing for one's faith: giving an answer for the hope that lies within. But I think its application is wider than that. Yes, it's a challenge to witness. But it also challenges us to have an answer. When someone asks you something, replying "I don't know" is an answer, but its not an answer that necessarily helps. fF somebody says, "How can I get to heaven?" or, "why do you believe in Jesus?" We really ought to have an answer better than "I don't know." That's where discipleship comes in. Are you pursuing God through knowing His word? That's what a disciple does. Peter also wrote, "As newborn babes [desire milk, you should] desire the the milk of the word, that you might grow..."
So what if they ask, "Don't good works count for anything?" or, "Why do you guys dunk people?" or, "Are you anti-homosexual?" What are you going to say?
Do you have a biblical answer for those questions? Do you want to have one? And then there's another equally important question. Can you answer these folks with gentleness, meekness, respect for them, and in the fear of God?
Recently I read an article by a pastor (Brian McLaren) who said how he hated to answer questions about homosexuality. He said we should have a moratorium on making decisive statements on that subject for 5 years while we talk and listen to each other. This person was showing great meekness and respect for others. But, what about respecting God? What about having an answer for anyone that asks. God has already spoken on this subject and thousands of others. Acting like we have to get our answers from humanity when God has already spoken, is not sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
I once preached a pro-life sermon in which I spelled out pretty clearly that abortion was a sin. Later that day a young lady in the church told me that she had had an abortion years ago. This was a wonderful young woman. A great wife, and mother of two darling little girls. She was funny, sweet, supportive of me as her pastor, but there was also a deep scar in her life. I did not regret my sermon or my stance. I did comfort her from the "hope that lies within me," that Jesus can forgive anything we have done, He loves us with an everlasting love, and He already paid the price for her decision 2000 years ago on the cross.
Are you ready to give an answer, to anyone who asks, out of the hope within you, with gentleness, respect and the fear of God? Remember what Paul told Timothy, "Study, to show yourselves approved unto God."

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