I wonder what you thought when you read the statement ‘Be Prepared!’? Perhaps it reminds us of the words of caution we are given when approaching exams, a job interview or even when packing for a trip! Although it can sound threatening it is always said with the best intentions. Without preparation, we risk performing poorly, missing out on an experience or perhaps letting ourselves and others down.
Actions often speak louder than words and what we do can overshadow the things we say.
In his first epistle, Peter instructs us to always be prepared to share our faith, and he outlines three principles we can use to help us. He specifically refers to sharing our faith in response to questions from unbelievers. However, these principles may also help us prepare for service in other contexts too, such as preparing silent or audible thanksgivings for the Remembrance, a talk, or a children’s group or activity. He writes:
…in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame.1 Pet. 3:15-16
First, he reminds us that preparation begins in our hearts (1 Pet. 3:15a). Establishing the Lord Jesus as the focus of our hearts is imperative to anything we do for him. Sadly, our hearts are easily led astray and it is important to set aside time every day to read about him, think about him and talk to him to help us refocus.
Secondly, Peter instructs us to prepare what we are going to say (1 Pet. 3:15b). Perhaps we are better at doing this for ‘formal’ church activities than for everyday conversations: how can we prepare something to say if we do not know what will be asked? Does Peter expect us to have complex arguments ready to trip off the tongue? I hope not!
Without preparation, we risk performing poorly, missing out on an experience or perhaps letting ourselves and others down.
Notice that he encourages us to prepare our reason for our hope in the Lord Jesus. Complex arguments might have their place, but Peter knows a personal testimony, delivered with gentleness and respect, can be far more interesting, engaging and effective than complex theological arguments.
Thirdly, we must prepare our lives (1 Pet. 3:16). Actions often speak louder than words and what we do can overshadow the things we say. Peter encourages us to prepare our lives so that they stand up to the scrutiny of others and do not bring the name of the Lord into disrepute.
This may all sound daunting, but the Lord promises that the Holy Spirit will help us to know what to say when the moment comes (Luke 12:11-12), but this does not mean we should forgo the responsibility of making sure that we are ready.
Sam Jones, The Church of God in Aberkenfig