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.
But it is a rare day that someone does actually ask the question, "Can you tell me about the hope you have?" Even so I've been encouraged recently to think that this doesn't need to be a rare event. Some of us at church have just done a three week course called Just Start Talking and it's a gem. It's about how to just start talking - about Jesus.
Just Start Talking is full of reminders and encouragements...
That it is God's work to save people.
That we just need to be people who are, not people who do - that is, we're not about doing anything special or particular but simply living out our lives as children of God.
That it can be scary to talk about Jesus - but we don't need to have a theological degree under our belts before we do. We just need to talk about our own experience of living life as one of God's children.
And there's good equipping...
Ideas on how to introduce our faith into all sorts of conversations.
Ideas on how to encourage conversation rather than kill it.
Ideas on how to build in an opportunity to meet again to continue on the conversation.
Just Start Talking is very much about sharing Jesus within the context of relationships in a way that honours and brings life to those relationships.
One of the exercises across the weeks is to write your own story without any jargon in about 100 words. The Just Start Talking schema is to say why you are a Christian, give a brief explanation and then finish with a question. It's not about writing down your whole story and finishing it off with a summary of the key points of the gospel. That would be a monologue - a very long one in some cases - met with yawning, eye rolling and maybe the end of the friendship.
You can't say much in 100 words at all. But that's the point. It's meant to be the beginning of a conversation. It's about a minute's worth. Finishing with a question opens up the conversation. Or it may be that something you have said - because you can't go into much detail at all in 100 words - triggers a question. You know, something like, "What did you mean by...?"
There is much to love about this course. It's fun (Colin Buchanan is one of the presenters on the DVD), it's not at all scary (I did it with a couple of quite timid people who are completely pumped), it can be done in three weeks and it's immensely encouraging. Just Start Talking is an encouragement to live a life that reflects a relationship with God, to pray for those who don't know Him and to just start talking about the things that are so very important.
And the thing that encouraged me the most was the idea that if I become known as someone who tries to introduce Jesus into my conversations on a regular basis then at some stage someone probably will ask the question..."Can you tell me the reason for the hope that you have?"