But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you….1 Peter 3:15
This passage is one I find the most challenging and scary. To begin with, as wordy as I often am, someone suddenly asking to know why I believe in Christ often renders me wordless.
First off, nobody ever asks nicely, like, “what is the reason for the hope within you?” Oh no, no, instead I always get strong accusations and harsh demands such as, “Why do you continue to worship a Bronze age religion invented by goat herders?” Or, “What’s it like being delusional and needing to use a sky daddy as a crutch?” Or, “How can you promote such hate filled ideas in the world?” Or, “Why do you worship a mass murderer?” Or “Religion is the root of all evil, are you evil IB?”
Welcome to the 9th circuit of hell.
Second of all, I have jaded eyes and can be deeply cynical at times, which always gives rise to sarcasm and bits of gallows humor. So, Bronze Age sky daddy? Well, yabba dabba doo! I wouldn’t mind being Wilma at all and cavemen are awesome, but of course that is not a proper answer at all for the reason of the hope that is in you.
Third, I am always compelled to speak the truth and truth for me can be a little bit out there, in the spiritual, based on feelings, emotions, intuition. So why Christ? Because I simply fell in love, deeply, irrationally, passionately….and progressively because I first encountered Him when I was 3 years old. I will never forget sitting in the sun next to a compost pile smelling rotten veggies, the rick rack on my dress and the scab on my leg. It could have happened yesterday, it is that clear in my mind. I just felt His presence and instantly knew Him. With all the wonder and amazement of a child I realized that God was real. I believed God was real before I even believed love was real.
I had several lovely encounters like that all through my childhood. My parents just thought I was crazy, delusional because they were very militant atheists. They did everything they could to try to convince me I was wrong, so I learned to just keep these experiences to myself….and my faith grew and I learned about love.
When I was 13 I finally got to study the bible, to learn, to be baptized. It was like being madly in love and finally getting married, with all the superficiality of a 13 year old, lost in crushes and romanticism. It was amazing. I was His, I was reserved, my name was written in the book of life.
People often want an apologetic themed reason for faith, something rational and based on logic and evidence. I can provide that too, but that’s not what lead me to Christ. I simply let go, closed my eyes, felt the music and fell madly in love. How could I not, He is Perfect Love filled with that sweet fragrance of Lily of the Valley. It is like coming home, like breaking the surface of a lake when you are starved for oxygen and gulping in fresh air. Those who do not know Him would not understand, but He is so beautiful and sees us not as we are, but as we were intended to be. He knows us, each one of us better than we know our own selves.
When you are too far away from Him it feels a bit like being alone on the ocean in a life raft, surrounded by nothing but water, the horizon flat and closing in all around you. That is what it means to be truly alone and our lives tend to reflect that ship wrecked state. People can have all the trappings of success, worldly goods, in the Western world great comfort, and yet we are still lost at sea, broken inside. Many of us know what it is to survive, but few of us know what it is to truly live.
A reason of the hope that is in you, Christ is the reason, His perfect love, His teachings, His sacrifice on the cross. To know Christ is to know how deeply loved you are, to truly live. He didn’t just die to get us into heaven, he died to get a little bit of heaven into us.
To know Him is to stand in the midst of ruins, watching the whole world crumble around you, and to still be filled with such joy, with that peace that surpasses all understanding, because you can see Him there, sitting at the right hand of the Father, victorious.
To sanctify, it means to set apart. So when one sanctifies the Lord God in our hearts, we are choosing what to focus on, what to see in the world around us…and beyond. Perception is not always reality, but it has a way of becoming our reality, so one must either chose to walk in the spirit or walk in the darkness.
Even in the darkness however, Christ is right there, waiting to throw us a life ring.
***Repost from 2015