The year after I finished college,
I became friends with a guy who was smart, kind, and grew up in much the same way I did…sweet family, went to church, small town, etc. We want to grab dinner one night, and he said, “Maggie, I need to tell you something.” Well that’s never good, right? So I settled in, trying to prepare myself for whatever was about to come. He took a deep breath and said, “I’m agnostic.” I must have looked very confused because he proceeded to lay out his explanation for his thinking based on lack of historical/scientific evidence and doubt about the Bible’s authenticity, assuming that this would change things between us. As I listened, I prayed about what to say and how to make him see that God was real, realizing that there was so very much at stake because of those two little words.
And then this came to mind: “Always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that you have.” I had heard it in Sunday School, read it in my Bible, and now it was time to put it into action. So what would I do? I had a choice to make…face possible ridicule and loss of a friend or drop the conversation altogether? What would my answer be?
What Does ‘Always Be Prepared to Give an Answer’ Mean?
In 1 Peter 3:13-17, Peter shares what to do if we, as believers, suffer for doing what is right. He tells us not to worry or be afraid, but instead, continue to worship Christ as Lord of our lives. And then, he says this: “…if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it” (NLT).
Always be ready to give an answer…always be ready to explain the hope that we have in Jesus. But how? I’m not a biblical scholar. I haven’t been to seminary. I’m a simple girl who loves Jesus, reads His word, and wants everyone to know Him. But what could I say and do to make my friend see? To open his eyes to the truth? I felt utterly unprepared, inadequate, and unworthy of this task because my answer wasn’t smart or eloquent, or deep. And I didn’t think it was enough.
Does This Mean We Have to Know Everything There Is to Know about the Bible?
At that point in my walk with the Lord, I knew very little Scripture right off-hand and even less about proof of biblical stories and Jesus’ life. Knowing how intelligent this friend was, I knew he would need that proof though. So I took him a stack of books the next day: The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, More Than a Carpenter, and The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. I told him that I didn’t have all the answers, but this was a start, so he agreed to read them. I left, and I waited. A few days later, he called me and asked me to come over. My heart was completely undone, as I wondered what he would say. I prayed that the Lord had used these books, this “evidence”, to convince him of Truth. But did it work?
What if We’re Scared We Won’t Know the ‘Right Thing’ to Say?
When I arrived to see him, I prayed for the “right thing” to say. The “right words” to soften his heart toward the Lord and His Word…to help him see the only One who could save him. And I went in with confidence. I excitedly asked if he had read the books and what he had found, completely expecting him to say he was wrong and maybe this Jesus stuff had some truth to it.
But he didn’t. He said he looked through the books, compared them to the Bible some, but nothing had changed. There wasn’t enough proof to make him alter his thinking. And so I did the only thing I could do when he asked again why I believed.
I told him I just knew. I told him how I had seen Jesus work in my own life and those in my family. People and circumstances and feelings had changed that could only be explained because of His presence. I felt His hand over me and heard His voice as He drew me close in the dark times of my life. I believed because I had faith…being sure of what I hoped for, and certain of what I could not see (Heb.11:1). I told him I knew Jesus was more than a story because I felt Him in my heart and soul.
But it still wasn’t enough. He said he admired my faith, my kindness, but he wouldn’t believe unless he saw Jesus for himself. And so I left. Dejected, but hopeful, that somehow, someway, Jesus would make himself real in his life.
At that moment, the Lord comforted me with the realization that a heart change couldn’t come from me…it could only come from Him. I had been obedient to share, and now my part was done.
The truth is, sweet friends, that there is no “right answer” for telling others about your faith in Jesus. But there are a few things you can do to prepare for when this day comes in your own life. Because most likely, it will.
4 Ways to Be Prepared to Give an Answer for Your Faith
Study the Word intentionally, memorize it, and prepare to point others to it.
The Word of God has power, y’all. And being able to share it and speak it with confidence, assurance, and faith is powerful for those listening. None of us will ever know it all. Every time I read a passage, no matter how many times I’ve read it before, the Lord shows me something new about Himself. He teaches a new lesson, shares a new mercy, or calls my attention to more of His goodness. His Word brings peace and comfort and solidifies the faith and hope that we have, as we hold it close to our hearts.
My one regret about sharing my faith with that friend, almost 20 years ago, was that I didn’t point him more to the Word itself…because I wasn’t rooted in it yet either. But since that time, other opportunities have come, and I have been able to quote Scripture on the spot and point others to start in John or another book that pertains to an area they are struggling with. Sharing the source of all Truth for them to turn to when I’m not around. Choose to carve out time to read the Word for yourself, sweet friends, and make every effort to know it for yourself (Hebrews 4:12, Psalm 119:105).
Pray for the courage to speak when the opportunity presents itself.
Sharing your faith out loud can be scary. In the cancel culture that is so prevalent today, one “wrong” word can end friendships or begin a wave of “unfollows.” But throughout the Bible, we are encouraged to speak out about our faith (Ps.107:2). To tell the whole world what He has done (Ps.105:1-2)! And in our own strength, it will be difficult. But that’s where the prayer begins…ahead of time…for the Lord to give us the strength (Phil.4:13), for boldness to be strong and immovable (1 Cor.15:58), and for those of us who believe, to speak (2 Cor.4:13).
Remember how the Lord has worked in your own life, and prepare to tell the story that only you can tell.
Over the years, I have found that many times, the story that helped people see Jesus was not that of those in the Bible, but the personal stories of friends right here. Not because of anything they have done, but because of what He has done in them.
We each have a story that is only ours to tell, y’all. A testimony of what the Lord has done in our lives, whether deep and dark and dramatic, or simple and soulful and sweet. He is always working in our lives, and it is a gift, a privilege that we can share how we have seen Him move personally. Don’t for one minute, take for granted the story that He is writing in your life, because one day, it may be the story that changes someone else’s.
Prepare to release those you love as they seek Jesus.
“Ask Jesus to show himself to you. Ask Him to make Himself real. Go after Him and seek Him with all your heart. He’ll do it.” Those are the words a friend, who I consider to be a “mentor mom” told one of her sons as he went to explore the world years ago. He wasn’t sure Jesus existed in any way, much less for him.
But she did. She does. And she believed, with full confidence that seeds had been planted in her son’s life that would lead him back to the Truth one day. “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise” (Hebrews 10:23). Sometimes the greatest answer about our faith…is the act of faith in releasing those we love to the One who is able.
So, why is it important that Christians should always be prepared to give an answer about their faith? Because there isn’t one person on Earth who isn’t searching for the One, the only One, that can fill the empty places in their hearts, and we can point them in His direction. Because our answers can change someone’s path from that of death…to life…and introduce them to the greatest gift the world has ever known. What an amazing gift that answer is.