During 2015, the Board for Home Outreach will present a series of articles with the theme “Be Ready to Give an Answer.” This title is drawn from 1 Peter 3:15: “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.” As Christians, all of us are to be on the lookout for opportunities to tell others about Jesus, our true basis for hope in this seemingly hopeless world. It is the Board’s prayer that these articles will help you in your witnessing efforts.
There is a reason why we write things down. The reason, of course, is so that the information doesn’t get forgotten. Without pen and paper, even tying a string around your finger will only remind you that there is something you are supposed to remember.
God knows that our minds are weak and easily distracted. More even than that, these minds of ours are darkened because of sin. Because of sin, we hear without listening and see without understanding—especially with respect to God and His Word. So St. Paul writes, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
For such “natural” people—people who do not accept and cannot understand—God has done amazing things. He has given us His Son. He has conquered our sin and death in His flesh. And He has given us the words of truth and life to save us from lies and death. For the sake of our faith and salvation, God has committed Himself to paper.
It’s not as though God could forget. It’s not as though He could despise or misinterpret the High Priestly intercession and sacrifice of His Son, or fail to recognize what His Holy Spirit is doing for us in our Baptism. But we could forget, and we did. So the Lord revealed the Word; and the word got written down.
The written Word helps us in our witness. You see, Being Ready to Give an Answer sounds to us like we have a trump card. In our ears, it sounds like we can silence all the critics, put all detractors to shame, and put an end to every argument. Then everyone within earshot converts instantly, falls to their knees thanking God, and says to you: “Where did you get such wisdom?”
And who knows but that it might happen just that way? Yet, in all the rush to try to be the person who can say something insightful, something witty, something that incisively gets through to people, we have a way of forgetting that the One who’s really speaking is God. God the Father spoke His Word in eternity, and in time spoke that Word into the flesh. God the Son spoke the absolution at the cost of His blood and death. God the Spirit breathed the words of Holy Scripture into His chosen, inspired writers.
So then part of Being Ready to Give an Answer is to point souls to that Word. Give it to them on paper. Then you are not pointing to yourself with your wit and charm. You are placing between them and yourself something external and objective: a word of witnesses testifying about Jesus, modeling prayer, and teaching about repentance and remission of sins. Our synod (along with a handful of other synods, sources, and publishing houses) is committed to providing devotional resources to you, for your use, and so that you can in turn give them away.
It connects with worship, which connects with daily prayer, which connects to faith: that very thing we seek for God Himself to provide in our loved ones when we pray: “Thy Kingdom Come.”
Reverend Aaron Hamilton
Concordia Lutheran Church
Eau Claire, WI