Demonstrable hope

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…  – 1 Peter 3:15

Is it just me, or does the world need a big dose of hope right now?

I don’t mean the wistfully aspirational, maybe this is the year the Leafs win the Stanley Cup but in the back of my mind I know it will never happen in my lifetime, kind of hope.

I mean real hope. A Biblical hope. A hope that confidently expects good – trusts it is going to come even if it isn’t here yet – and yearns excitedly for its arrival.

The author of 1 Peter talks about this kind of hope, but says a whole lot more that should catch our attention.

Hope starts from a place of reverence – literally the word used here is to sanctify or set apart – in our hearts that creates a response in our lives to Jesus as Lord. Jesus – not just the one who saves us, but the one who inspires and informs all our thoughts and actions. The one who speaks to us every day and longs for our noticeable response. We should be always prepared – constantly ready – to explain its source. The reason. The logic, the grounding, the experience behind it – the why of our hope.

What I find striking isn’t that, as followers of Jesus, we’re supposed to know the reason for our hope. That hardly seems revolutionary to me. It’s that we’re told to expect – in all settings, with all people and at all times – to be asked about it. Implying the assumption that our reverence for Christ produces such a visible and demonstrable manifestation of this hope that is different enough from the world around us that it provokes questions from those who encounter it.

And not just passing questions. Probing, intentional, get to the bottom of it questions. Like the ones we would get if asked to testify in a court proceeding, requiring not just some memorized, past Sunday School answer. But requesting a testimony – a recounting of things seen, heard, and experienced in our lives with Christ that provokes our response of hope. Not from our heightened sense of justice, not to defend ourselves, not to attack or put down or criticize our opponent. But from a place of humility that respects and is in tune with the attitude of Christ – responding to God’s overwhelming presence in our lives. An answer offered with gentleness and respect.

So, as we enter the season where we celebrate that hope has finally arrived, I leave us with a question – if we aren’t being asked about the reason for the hope that we have, is it because the world is no longer interested in the answer? Or is it because the witness of our lives no longer provokes the right questions?


Sean East serves as co-pastor at Listowel Mennonite Church.

Sean East