But in your heart 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… 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
When people first hear the word ‘apologetics’, they typically think of our modern use of the word apology. They often conclude that the task of apologetics is apologising for the Christian faith as if to say we are sorry for what we believe. However, the word apologetics derives from the Greek word apologia, which means ‘to give an answer’ or ‘to make a defence’. Apologetics is not an apology, it’s an answer – a defence of what we believe.
Always be prepared to give an answer (apologia) to everyone… 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
We are to be ready to make a defence for the hope that is in us, but notice that Peter calls us to do it with gentleness and respect. It is not only what we say that is important, but how we say it. There is no room for arrogance, a know-it-all attitude or ramming our beliefs down someone’s throat. You can’t argue people into the Kingdom of God. Rather, Paul told us that we are to “speak the truth in love”. We are called not only to speak the truth but to do so in love.
Paul also told us:
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6 (NIV)
People need to hear the gospel – to hear that God loves them, Christ died for them and that they can have eternal life.
‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? Romans 10:13-14 (NIV)
God has called us all to reach people as we live out our everyday lives, to help those around us find and experience His grace. Paul reminds us:
…we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. 2 Corinthians 5:20 (NLT)
Let’s remember as we witness to do so with gentleness and respect, to speak the truth in love and allow our conversation to be full of grace.