Summary: Witnessing means that we demonstrate, defend and disarm
The photographer for a national magazine was assigned to get photos of a great forest fire. Smoke at the scene hampered him and he asked his home office to hire a plane. Arrangements were made and he was told to go at once to a nearby airport, where the plane would be waiting. When he arrived at the airport, a plane was warming up near the runway. He jumped in with his equipment and yelled, "Let’s go! Let’s go!" The pilot swung the plane into the wind and they soon were in the air. "Fly over the north side of the fire," yelled the photographer, "and make three or four low level passes." "Why?" asked the pilot. "Because I’m going to take pictures, I’m a photographer and photographers take pictures!" After a pause the pilot said, "You mean you’re not the instructor?" Fact is sometimes we are so focused on having to accomplish our own agenda, our own task that we forget to stop and make sure we’re on the right plane.
I imagine most of you know about the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. One thing that I still remember about my days in the Boy Scouts is the motto. Do you know the motto of the Scouts? Their motto is, "Be Prepared." That means that a good Scout must try to be prepared to handle anything that might happen. For example, when we went on a camping trip, we had to make sure that we had all of the equipment we would need. As Christians we always need to be prepared to share our faith.
1 Pet 3:13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." 15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. 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, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
We want to be contagious in our Christianity, don’t we? We want to make a difference. This morning we’re going to focus on how to live out our responsibility. Specifically, how can we take biblical truths and communicate them in a way that is both practical and compelling?
As Christians we like to talk about witnessing but we struggle to actually do it.
1 Pet 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.
The book of 1 Peter was written to a persecuted and suffering church. Peter gives instructions on how Christians should live in a world that is hostile to their presence. The problem of suffering has marked the people of God throughout the centuries, and continues today. In chapter 3, Peter gives several principles for enduring difficulties.
Verse 15 starts of with the word “but” which means that there is a contrast to what came before it. In verse 13-14 Peter says;
1 Pet 3:13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened."
Peter says here that doing good will make persecution less likely. However, we know that the life that Jesus calls us to is in opposition to the world. Even when we do good there will be times when we will still suffer. However, even if we do suffer we are still blessed.
Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
So what does it mean when Peter says “in our hearts set apart Christ as Lord.” It means that we trust Jesus, and only Jesus. It means that we have faith. Verse 14 is a quote from Isaiah;
Isaiah 8:12 … do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. 13 The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread
The context in Isaiah 8 describes how Ahaz, who was king of Judah, faced a crisis when the armies of Assyrian were about to attack. The kings of Israel and Syria invited Ahaz to join them in an alliance so they could oppose Assyria, but he stubbornly refused. When he turned them down, Israel and Syria began to make plans to attack Judah in addition to Assyria. Now, there are three powerful countries poised to pounce on Judah. Unbelievably, Ahaz decides to align himself with their enemy the king of Assyria because he is so afraid. He send gold from the temple as tribute to Assyria.