Read 1 Peter 3:15-16
15 Honor Christ and let him be the Lord of your life.
Always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope. 16Give a kind and respectful answer and keep your conscience clear. This way you will make people ashamed for saying bad things about your good conduct as a follower of Christ. (CEV)
No one will ever argue another person into a relationship with God. Fire all your scholarly opinion at them, launch all your powerful and eloquent reason at them, and they will not necessarily switch allegiance to Jesus. The heart and the will have to be engaged as well as the mind. And since many of us believe this to be so, we can be tempted to then dismiss the idea of trying to reason with people about our faith. In this passage, Peter tells us this is not an option.
In his letter from which this passage is taken, Peter has been urging his readers to live good lives in imitation of Jesus. He assumes people will take note of the Christians’ distinctive lives and inquire about what drives them. This, incidentally, is a good pattern to remember when we think about being witnesses for Jesus. Our good works lead to good words. It is not enough to simply live good lives or to speak fine words. Both are needed.
Peter reminds us that each of us needs to be able to state clearly and simply what it is that causes us to be followers of Jesus. This doesn’t mean we need to give exhaustive comments on the mystery of the Holy Trinity or explain the delights of predestination. We are however expected to be able to give a reason for our faith, to defend its reasonableness and explain how it shapes us. Some will be more articulate than others, but there is no excuse for an intellectually lazy faith or a dismissal of the need to grasp something of its intellectual basis. Such an attitude reinforces the suspicion of some that the Christian faith is mere irrational superstition.
We do have a faith that makes sense. So let’s make sense of it.