“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
Paul Little cites the scripture above as the main reason we must have reasons for our faith.
He goes further “If we are unable to give reasons for our faith, and if we allow the same questions to defeat us in conversation time after time, we are being disobedient. By our own ignorance, we are confirming unbelievers in their unbelief.”
This is the “elephant in the room.”
When I have been “caught off guard” and have been asked a tough question by an unbeliever or a doubter and I don’t have an answer, I have this lingering sense of dread about what has just happened.
My sense of dread has been articulated above by Paul Little.
I am not one who has a “quick trigger” on my brain. I have found myself at times in situations when I have missed my opportunity. Minutes or hours later, the proper response comes to me and I wonder why it has taken so long. By the time it comes to me, the opportunity is long gone.
Many of those situations are not that serious; a time to say something funny, a chance to be witty or just a time for me to open my vast storehouse of information and share with those less informed.
But what if the opportunity is to share our faith?
When you lack the words to articulate your faith, it hurts.
I am reminded of Moses in his conversations with God. “Oh Lord I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” [Exodus 4: 10].
Let me remind you of God’s response: [Exodus 4: 11-12] “The LORD said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?’ Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.”
I guess pleading lack of eloquence is not good enough.
It goes further than that.
Moses is being disobedient.
He would rather plead lack of skill than develop skill. Did he have the skills to lead the Israelites? Of course he did. He had the skill to represent God before the Pharaoh. He had the skill to lead his people out of Egypt. He had the skill to establish boundaries for the livelihood of his people.
He had the goods and God knew it all along.
Did he think he had the ability? He did not. Therein is the problem that most of us Christians have. We could do better in advancing our knowledge of our faith but no one has presented the facts of our faith to us. We don’t know where to turn to find out the basics of our religion. The Bible is the Book that sits on the shelf gathering dust because it is so complex, the words are so hard and some of those passages are so boring. Those people existed so long ago and that part of the world is mysterious [it still is to us today].
So what do we do?
We do like Moses and say “I am slow of speech.” I lack the skills and the knowledge. We fake our lack of information, hoping we never encounter a situation when our lack of intelligence is revealed. Sometimes we use stock phrases spoken with a degree of bluster and we hope that people buy into how our information is spoken. [We know if they look behind the bluster there is not much content to back it up].
What we are really doing is living with that sense of dread that I wrote about earlier. We know one day we may have a chance to articulate our faith and we won’t be able to do it and we dread that day. We don’t want to fail when that time comes but we know we will.
There is only one way to try to avoid this dread.
Admit that we have it.
Begin to work hard to avoid it.
I know this is going to sound very judgmental but if you really want to “work hard to avoid it” ask yourself what you are putting number one in your life. I think if we took away thirty minutes from our television time per day and spent it on reading information about God, eventually the dread would go away.
The dread would go away because we are learning.
The confidence would come because we are learning.
The opportunity to help another person will not pass by because we are prepared.