13 Who then will harm you if you are devoted to what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
1 Peter 3:13-17
In middle school, our most cherished and dreaded tradition was the fall “Sock Hop Dance.” So as not to scratch the gym floor, all shoes would be thrown into a pile, and all of young people spent an hour of the afternoon awkwardly interacting while music played in the background. It is probably even more painful to look back on now than it was at the time.
As I reflect on 1 Peter 3:13-17, though, I realize that all too many Christians are treating evangelism like a middle school dance.
Some of us are intimidating with our over-prepared approach (complete with a heavy dowsing of dad’s cologne and cheesy pickup lines we read in a book somewhere). Some of us are too nervous to stray from our familiar group, so we simply wait, hoping someone will notice us. Some of us are only brave enough to hover by the refreshments in hopes that someone gets desperate enough to come close.
However, Peter talks about evangelism in a way that doesn’t assault, is bold enough to communicate truth clearly (even when the situation is intimidating), and is not centered on passively waiting for the perfect moment. Instead, Peter calls us, 1) to be unafraid of gospel conversations, and 2) to witness out of a foundation based in our character.
- What is the worst that can happen in a gospel conversation? In Peter’s context, true persecution and martyrdom were possibilities. In the context for most of us today in the United States, rejection and maybe mockery is as bad as it could possibly get. Peter’s response to that is the reminder that no one should harm you for being “deeply committed to what is good.” Even if they do harm you or reject you, Peter reminds us that those who suffer for the sake of righteousness are blessed—which is a theme that runs throughout the Bible. Peter says we should be ready, willing and able to speak gospel truth to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
- Peter further instructs that the basis for our ability to be evangelistic must be rooted in our Christian character. In order to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively, we must be aware of how we conduct ourselves in the world. Specifically, Peter points us to being deeply committed to what is good (vs 13) and to honor the Messiah as Lord in our hearts (vs 15).
This is the starting point, but then he goes further. We should also communicate our faith in a way that is gentle and respectful, we should maintain a clear conscience, and we should embrace adversity and accusation with faith and hope (vs 16-17). It is not enough for us to verbally communicate our faith in a gospel conversation—we must also maintain a Christian character to back it up.
Just like in a middle school dance, our boldness should be rooted in a good character that was established long before the dance—but that character alone is not enough. We have to be willing to walk across the floor and invite others to join in the goodness we have found.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What makes you hesitate to get to the gospel in a conversation? Think of a specific person in your life you need to have a conversation with and list out your fears and hesitations. Pray for the boldness to overcome those worries.
- Are you willing to suffer for the sake of righteousness?
- Does your character where you live, where you work, and where you play reflect Christ?
- Does your evangelism stop with good character, or are you willing to use your character as a basis to speak about the gospel?
Time to Tell Clock
- Construction Paper
- Ribbon or string to hang clock
- Cut a circle out of the construction paper.
- Cut two arrows, one smaller than the other, out of a different color of construction paper.
- Using a brad put the arrows in the middle of the circle to look like hands on a clock.
- Add numbers in marker to your clock and write “Always time to tell” somewhere on the clock.
- Decorate the clock then add a string or ribbon to hang your clock on the wall.
As a family, talk about the different times when you can tell others about Jesus. For example: at 12:00, you may be eating in the lunchroom with friends and can talk about Him then; or at 7:00 at night, pray for God to show you who to tell about Him. Discuss times when it might be easier to show boldness, and when to be brave to talk about Jesus.