This is the Apostle Peter. “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere 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, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:13-16).
Now listen to the Apostle Paul: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:2-6, italics added).
Peter and Paul are calling plays from the same playbook. Peter’s, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks” sounds a lot like Paul’s, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” These instruction are for ordinary believers, not just evangelists. Every follower of Jesus should be prepared to answer questions about Christ. That includes us.
All of us, not just pastors, evangelists, and church leaders, have a responsibility to give an answer when asked. The apostles are not telling everyone to “Do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5). They are not saying, “be ‘ready to preach the gospel’” (Romans 1:15, KJV). They don’t order us to initiate conversations. They tell us to be prepared to give answers.
Again: That means they were expecting questions and that is where the church comes in. When the church is the contrast society that God intends, people will ask questions. Being a contrast society means, among other things, that we love and forgive each other, love our spouses and our enemies (and our spouses when they are our enemies), renounce vengeance, operate by a sexual ethic that honors God’s creation and respects others’ rights, are true to our word, refuse to condemn and shame, and put others’ welfare above our success. When a group of us lives like that, people will ask questions.
(Tomorrow: In evangelism, is good content the most important thing?)