“But in your hearts revere 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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” 1 Peter 3:15-16 NIV

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:2, “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.” In the passage above Peter alludes to similar ideas when he tells us to be prepared to give an answer to people for our hope. We are called to live in such a way that others would “read” our lives and be curious. Peter assumes that questions will be asked when people see our lives and he challenges us to be ready.

There is a kind of living that causes people to ask questions about our hope but it doesn’t stop there. Peter also tells us the spirit with which we are to answer them when they do ask. He says, “do this with gentleness and respect.” The way we live and the way we speak to people can often be more important than the content of our beliefs or message. This is not to say that content is unimportant but it is unheard without life evidence and gentle words. We are living letters, read by all people, what does our letter say to them? Is the letter harsh? Is it welcoming? Is it kind? Does the letter of our lives sound like the voice of Jesus to those around us?

Take a moment to confess the many ways in which your life does not communicate the message of Jesus to people.

Merciful God, your voice is sweetness to my soul. You spoke kindness, love, and grace to me. You embraced me while I was undeserving. I confess that my life does not reflect the same love and kindness that yours does to me. I confess that the letter of my life does not always draw people to your love. Forgive me for not reflecting you. Help me this week to live in such a way that someone asks me about my hope in you!

By Aaron Bjorklund