As a former athlete, I have heard over and over again the mantra “always be ready!” The concept of the next man up. Recently, I heard a story about a college basketball team that does not really have an established rotation of players. It utilizes particular match-ups with particular opponents and how particular players are performing on that particular night. This does result in players feeling confused about their role on the team or being discouraged because of fluctuating playing time. However, it captures the essence that his players should always be ready to play in any situation, in any game, at any time.
In the church, we utilize this concept and try to equip our people to always be ready. To be ready to serve. To be ready to teach. To be ready to lead. To be ready to step up in any situation to help the church. We also use this language in evangelism training. I encourage my students to always be ready to share the Gospel. However, I am not always good at this myself. I wear the wrist bands and the shirts that are designed to be gospel conversation starters, and most days go by without much attention to this attire. Last week though, I was wearing my “#Gospelize” t-shirt and the cashier in a store asked me what my shirt meant!
As I hesitated and stammered a bit trying to figure out exactly what to say, my wife stood there almost grinning at my hesitation. She wasn’t making fun of me, but this exact scenario is what I preach to everyone – that they should always be ready to share the Gospel and talk about Jesus. My moment was here, and I failed. I finally explained what the shirt meant and asked if he knew anything about Jesus and/or church. He simply replied, “yes”. That is where I left it. I didn’t ask him any follow-up questions or have any other meaningful conversation with him. I paid for the item and left the store.
This got me thinking about 1 Peter 3:15. I love the way the New Living Translation puts it, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.”
Now, this young man was not asking me about hope in Christ. He simply asked what my shirt meant. I hesitated. I was unprepared for this moment, yet I was wearing a shirt that is designed to create this kind of moment. I tell my students all the time that if they wear the Gospel swag shirts, bands, hats, etc., they should be ready to talk about them. They do not have to be seminary professors, biblical scholars, deep theologians, or preachers. They just need to be able to tell others what Jesus means to them.
We should all be ready to answer others about our faith in Jesus. I think we all have moments where we hope nobody ever asks us about church, faith or Christ. Let me encourage you today, God does the saving. He just asks us to tell others what we know to be true: His love, His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness. Let us worship Christ everyday in our words, actions, and thoughts. Let Christ truly be the Lord (master) of our life. Let us always be ready to talk about the greatest relationship we have in Christ. Other translations include at the end of this verse, “but do it in gentleness and respect.” Let us also not use this as justification to debate people for the sake of debate because no one has ever been argued into heaven. Let us gently and respectfully and boldly share the love of Jesus with everyone we meet. Let us be bold. Let us be courageous. And just as athletes should always be ready to play; let us as Christians always be ready! Anyway, I was just thinking…