Have you ever known someone who seems to talk so much that they not only seem to just want to hear their own voice, but they are constantly answering questions no one has asked? This not only seems to be a social problem, but a spiritual one as well.
Its interesting to read the gospels and the book of acts with questions in mind. It seems as if every encounter that led to the Gospel being proclaimed, was in response to, defense of and an answer to a question that was posed. There was something about finding those who were inquisitive and giving them the true answer in the person of Jesus Christ.
Peter the apostle writes about this in 1 Peter 3:15, where he writes: “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. But do this with gentleness and respect,"
Peter is telling us of our responsibility, to be prepared with an answer. But in order to give an answer, you first must be asked a question, right? If someone has accosted you in the past 20 years, it seems as if that statement is incorrect. I got answers to questions I never asked as an atheist growing up, all the time. I would ask a “christian” about directions, and I’d get told the way to hell, and how I’m headed there.
It seems as if answering the questions people have was (and is) a biblical standard of sharing the hope that we have. Now, I know what you may be thinking: “What if no one asks me about my faith?” Well, that may be the wrong question, the right question may be: “If no one asks me about my faith, what does that say about my faith?” I think when you spend time in the sun, people can tell, and when you spend time with the Son, people can tell… and it makes them inquisitive, doesn’t it? And when people are inquisitive, doesn’t that make people wonder and ask questions to why you are the way that you are?
What if we lived in such a way that joy was obvious, and not because of a new car, or some vacation, but because of the fact that we have been redeemed by a redeemer who loves us right where we are at? Do you think that people would be more willing to engage in a conversation if you were answering a question they actually asked? Do you think that addressing their question would be surprisingly comfortable and cordial in relationship? Would that be an evangelism that doesn’t make you cringe when you think about it?
“Always be prepared to give an answer…” Seems as if our responsibility is not the end result, but the preparation. God is not about our effectiveness, but our obedience, so are you prepared? What would you say if someone came to you and asked: “How do I become a christian?” Now, this question is unlikely, but it isn’t improbable.
Years ago I had a friend who I would hang out with pretty consistently, lets call him “Bob”. We would talk about everything but faith, because he grew up with a pretty pop culture version of what religion is, so he was always a little timid to talk about faith, assuming I would accost him with my "spiritual elitism”. One day he started to deal with a family members mortality, and he told me about it, and asked what I would do if I was going through a similar situation. So I testified to how I had gone through this situation before and how I relied on my relationship with Jesus and how trusting God’s “godness” saw me through this ordeal, not that I was rubbing a magic lamp, or figuring out some secret code, but was submitting my will to God’s through prayer, and trusting what God would do. That He would comfort me in the situation, no matter what the end result was. “Bob” was taken back by my forthrightness, but he also appreciated my faith. So he then asked “So if I want that, what do I do?” Now, he didn’t ask “How can I become a christian?” But after having a conversation, and answering the questions that he has , and allowing for more questions to be asked, I got to share the hope that I have, with him.
We all have had or could have “Bob’s” in our lives, and if we would lay down our lives, pick up our cross and give up time with people. I believe whole heartily that every conversation becomes spiritual eventually, if we will let it, and not answer questions that no one is asking. But in my own ministry I have seen that generally the more questions that people ask (not to argue but because they genuinely want to know the answer) is a pretty good way to figure out if God is drawing them to himself. Our “job” if you will, is to be prepared to share the hope that we have… that is on us. So share the hope that you have, which is Jesus, the one who did for you what you could not do for yourself, by dying for our sin, rising from the dead, and adopting those who trust him into his Kingdom.
Now, sharing the Gospel doesn’t need to be a canned message, but if that is what you are prepared with, that's better than nothing, but testifying to what the Lord has done in your life and pointing people to their opportunity to have the same hope is vital to our evangelism.
Questions are a wonderful tool of getting to know others, and often when you ask a question of someone, they end up asking you the same question back, so be intentional in the questions that you ask, you may be able to help someone understand the hope that you have in a conversation you’d never expect.
“What if someone were to ask me a question I don’t know the answer to? Wouldn’t I lose some of their respect for not knowing the answer?” I love this question, because this is an amazing opportunity. Here is what I mean: If someone asks you something that you do not know, your response should be honest and be “I don’t know” but, this is a great opportunity to ask them “Since neither of us know the answer, would you like to do some research and I will too, and we can meet for coffee and discuss our findings?” An “I don’t know” answer actually helps create a further discussion that could produce fruit you’ve never dreamed of, all from being humble and honest enough to say that you do not know something.
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
The word answer is the word we get “Apologetic” from. It means a defense. “Always be prepared to give a defense to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Now if you are familiar with most sports, there tends to be an offense and a defense. And when we are giving an answer, or a defense, we are defending. What we have unfortunately done with evangelism is we have turned a defense into a offense and we just offend people. Now don’t hear what I’m not saying, the Gospel is offensive, the fact that its not about you, and all about Jesus, and you are in need of a savior… thats offensive. But, we are told by the Word of God to be prepared with a defense, to give to a world that is inquisitive. Not force feed people that could care less.
Our best offense is a godly life lived out loud, and prayer that is faithful to beg our Heavenly Father to draw people to himself. No one can stop you from praying for them, so use this spiritual ammunition that we have the authority to use. But also never let your life be an excuse for others to NOT follow Jesus. I think the world has too much opportunity to call christians out on our lives, not because we are supposed to be perfect, but we should be pursuing, and when we don’t have that posture, the world can throw up a hypocrite flag.
So, my hope is that you would see that you were created on purpose for a purpose to make much of Jesus, and each of us who are found in Christ are ministers of reconciliation, that are told to make disciples, and be prepared with an answer. So Christians, would you pursue looking to answer the questions people are actually asking, while being prepared with an answer of the reason for the hope that you have?
If you would like to know more about how to share the hope that you have, please check out our Compelled Evangelism training online, or contact us if you'd like to talk about hosting a live training: http://www.compelled.org/training-videos/