Always Be Ready To Explain It (II)
“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:15)
Back in April, we did a post with this same title, and we think it is important to keep posting every now and then to address ways we may explain our faith or interact with those who do not understand or believe.
This post was inspired by a viral video in which a man in a coffee shop verbally assaulted a woman wearing a hijab, the head covering and dress Islamic law requires women to wear. The man was completely in the wrong with everything he was saying; he was filled with hate and he was removed from the coffee shop on the grounds of hate speech. Unfortunately, he identified himself as a Christian—which is equivalent to someone eating meat and then declaring they are a vegan. To this, the woman replied, "In your Bible, Jesus says to bring the people who don't believe and to kill them in front of him." The man failed in his representation of Christ, and he failed in response to her claim about the Bible.
The verse the woman was referring to is Luke 19:27: "'And as for these enemies of mine who didn’t want me to be their king—bring them in and execute them right here in front of me.’” Out of context, that sounds pretty severe, but this kind of misquoting out of context is one of the reasons why Peter tells us to always be ready to explain our faith. Let's look at the verse in context so that we can always be ready to explain our faith.
The verse is the last sentence in a parable Jesus told. Jesus had just spent time with Zacchaeus in his home, which displeased the people in the crowd: "But the people were displeased. 'He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,' they grumbled" (v. 7). Verse 11 explains why Jesus told the parable to the crowd: "The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. And because he was nearing Jerusalem, he told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away." (Luke 19:11)
Immediately we have the why of the parable when usually the explanation comes at the end. When Jesus was on Earth, many people following him thought that he was there to usher in his kingdom through force. This was the idea of the Messiah to a lot of people, that he was going to establish his kingdom and rule through force, but Jesus' ministry was love. So, "to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away," Jesus taught in the same way he taught many of his lessons: with a story.
"He said, 'A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return. Before he left, he called together ten of his servants and divided among them ten pounds of silver, saying, ‘Invest this for me while I am gone.’" (Luke 19:12-13)
Jesus is the nobleman and his distant empire is heaven; he goes there after his resurrection, but he will return. Before he leaves, he gives his servants a gift which he asks that they invest for him while he is gone. This gift is the Holy Spirit and the message of the Good News. We are to invest it by sharing it with others, thus growing the investment. But also in the story are people who do not want him to be king.
"But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We do not want him to be our king.’" (Luke 19:14)
Jesus was well aware that there were people in the crowd hearing this parable that didn't like him and didn't accept him as the Son of God, their King. If you find yourself explaining this to someone, perhaps they will relate to these people. You could simply ask, do you want or accept Jesus as King, as the Son of God? If they answer no, then they should have no problem understanding that there were people just like them in Jesus' time as well. (It should be obvious that Jesus had enemies because he was killed.)
Now, in the story, the King returns and finds that some of the servants have invested and grown their money and they are rewarded and called faithful servants. But others have not invested the money; instead, they hid it because they did not want him to be king. So the king declares, "as for these enemies of mine who didn’t want me to be their king—bring them in and execute them right here in front of me.’”
The King's return represents the return of Jesus to our world at the end of time, so yes, those who do not want Jesus as their king, those who hate Jesus, will perish. Another counterargument or claim that people make against God is, "Why would a loving God send me to hell?" As apologist Frank Turek explains it, if you do not love God or want to be with God in eternity, He is not going to force you into His presence, and hell is total separation from God. God doesn't send us to hell, we choose it. Jesus said he is the life and if you reject life, death is your only option. This isn't evil or immoral; it is logical justice: a king cannot be victorious if those who oppose him also succeed. Jesus will reign as King over all and if people reject him they will face "the second death" (Revelation 21:8).
This world desperately needs Jesus and for those who represent Him to represent Him accurately and to be informed about our faith. If someone misquotes the Bible, we need to be able to explain and correct understanding. If you can't in the moment, humble yourself and be honest. Admit that you are not familiar with what they are saying; ask them what they know about that verse and explore it together. Trust in the Holy Spirit to give you understanding. We will not always have the answer but we should try our hardest to represent Christ accurately all the time.
"Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. For, Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him? But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:15-16)
Please show love to all those you meet. Don't judge anyone but love everyone and always be ready to combat falsehoods and explain the truth of the Word. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.