Colossians 4:6; 1 Peter 3:15f.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.
PRAYER AND CONVERSATION
We neglect three things when we’re too busy: prayer, Bible reading and talking about God. In Colossians 4:6 Paul exhorts us to action.
Talking to God about others – prayer. C.S. Lewis once commented: It’s probably truer to say that God invented both prayer and work for that purpose. God gave us, small creatures that we are, the dignity of being able to contribute to the course of events in two different ways. God listens to our prayers, and when he considers something is for the best, he will act on it. Prayer is very powerful: a potent force. This is why Paul urged the Colossians to be steadfast in prayer. He knew that effective outreach begins with persevering prayer. Prayer was one of the reasons for the terrific outreach success of the first Christians. Continue steadfastly in prayer…, Paul says. ‘Don’t give up! Your prayers may not be answered immediately, but don’t give up.’
The Bible tells us over and over again that God’s great passion is for people turn to him. This is one prayer we know he will answer.
Lifestyle and conversation – a potent combination. Paul’s advice to the Colossians has two parts – life-style and speech. We are all obliged to act wisely and graciously towards people with whom we live and work. We are also obliged to make the most of the opportunities to respond to people about matters of the faith. We are to cultivate our conversation so that it is kind and gracious and seasoned with salt – that is, conversation that is not insipid and puerile, but conversation that has substance.
PRIORITIES OF HOPE
In fact Paul is suggesting that all of us will have opportunities to talk to others about God – his reality and relevance, his amazing love and incredible goodness. Paul may have in mind a similar thought to Peter (I Peter 3:15). ‘When you speak,’ Paul writes, ‘introduce ideas that will stir and provoke questions about the larger issues of life’. All of us hear comments such as, ‘Religion seems so self-righteous’. ‘Everyone is right in their own kind of way.’ ‘I’m not a religious person.’ ‘I hate the rules and restrictions of Christianity!’ Or, ‘You have your ideas and I have mine!’
Have you considered how you might respond to such comments? Pray that you will be alert to these opportunities, and be prepared to answer. This may include a two-minute account of why you came to put your trust in Jesus Christ! Or, you may want to invite your interlocutor to church or a short course such as Christianity Explored.
You may want to consider:
- one of the implications of giving an answer is to be able to tell your ‘story’ of how you came to the faith: you may want to think about this and learn to present it naturally and easily; a personal story recounted well holds attention and cannot be refuted;
- how worthwhile it is to develop skills in answering questions people ask; resources are available to help us;
- the need to provide opportunities for people to learn about the faith – plan to invite friends and family to church and courses such as Christianity Explored.
Let me encourage you to pray
© John G. Mason, Reason for Hope – 40 Days of Bible Readings and Reflections – 2016. All Rights Reserved.