Prepared for More
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Preparing for More
1 Peter 3:13-22
How prepared are you to speak about the truth and to do so with passion and complete faith? I must say that sometimes it appears that there are more people in the world more prepared to tear down the faith than there are those who are prepared or even willing to defend the faith. The enemy’s tools are constantly adapting and improving and it seems that we have been rather behind. I believe that one great thing that this pandemic has done for the church is that it has forced the Church to have to adapt and update their program a little as far as how we do church. It has forced us to use some of the same tools that the enemy tries to use against us. When we do finally go back to meeting together in person, we will be better prepared for more of what the enemy tries to throw at us.
The apostle Paul was an example of someone who had a readiness to defend the faith in his creator, friend, and counselor. Paul was in a lot of ways rejected by the Jews and Jewish leaders who he used to represent as a sort of poster child for all pharisees. As he met Christ on his way to Damascus he was transformed. However, the same zealousness he had for persecuting Christ and His followers he now had for spreading the gospel message of Christ. Because he was rejected by his own people, he was led to preach to everyone else. He was always prepared to perform his task boldly and creatively. In Acts 17 Paul finds himself in the Greek city of Athens. Athens was a place of education and philosophy. It was in a lot of ways a city of freedom as well. The education system was not like the education system we have here with kids going to school and such. In a lot of ways, it was probably better than our system as the great minds of the time found leisure in the way they would think. Rather than being taught what to think they learn about how to think for themselves. If you had the ability to think and communicate about what you were thinking then this would determine your place in society. This very system opened a doorway for Paul to speak and share the Gospel message in this city. Athens was a melting pot of all kinds of thoughts and different religious beliefs. They essentially had them all. It was a galore of idols. Just make sure they were covering all the bases they had a monument built to an unknown God. I think they figured that somehow or another someone would get it right so they covered all bases of faith.
During his time there Paul spends his time preaching to the people. The great minds of the time hear about Paul and have him speak before them as they were hearing about strange deities from him. Paul is prepared for this opportunity and uses some great people skills that can only come from the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Though he is zealous he is wise and respectful to these Athenians and these great thinkers. Rather than make fun of them or chastise them for their ignorance he compliments their religiosity. He tells them that he can see that they are very religious and he admires how they seek out faith. He even points out this altar to an unknown God. He then explains the purpose and reason for his own faith. He explains that they no longer must wonder about who this unknown God is as he is no longer unknown but known as the God who created the very universe and everything within it. He is not a God who is served by human hands or built by human hands. He also explains that there will be a day of judgment and justice in the world. He says that in the past the Lord overlooked the ignorance of the world however, now that Christ has come, we cannot claim ignorance anymore. He has given proof of his justice to come by raising Christ from the dead.
Not everyone believed what Paul was saying about this resurrection, in fact the scripture says many sneered at this thought and found it to be ridiculous. However, there were some who wanted to hear more. Those who wished to hear became followers and began to believe in the message Paul had to share. I think sometimes we can get stuck in this belief that everyone must believe right here and now. However, we need to accept the fact that some will choose not to believe. We are not called to try to force others to believe what we believe. Instead we are called to be ready and prepared to explain what and why we believe what we believe.
We must be prepared because the enemy is always prepared to attack us. There is a popular song that came out several years ago produced by DC Talk called Jesus Freak. In that song it asks the question, “what will people think when they here that I’m a Jesus Freak? What will people do when they find out it’s true?” This expresses the fear that many believers have about sharing their faith. Fear of how we will be looked at differently because of what we believe. However, the song goes on to say, “I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus Freak, there ain’t no disguising the truth.” This is not something meant to be hidden and it is impossible to be hidden if we are obedient to His word.
1 Peter 3:13-22 says, “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats do not be frightened.’ 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.” We are encouraged to be ready to speak and ready to share why we believe what we believe. However, we are to do so with tact and respect. Peter goes on to say, “But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” What good is it for us to condemn the world when he himself did not come to condemn but to save? Therefore, we must be prepared with a readiness to share the truth of which we know and let the world condemn itself. It does not need our help to condemn it. It does a good enough job all on its own.
Jesus promised his disciples that he would send them a helper to prepare them for more of what the enemy would try to throw against them. He promises them the Holy Spirit. He explains that the world cannot accept Him because they can not see or know him. The world will only believe in what they can see and touch. Well we are seeable and touchable and it is because of this that we must be prepared to share what we believe. We will not have to do this on our own because He living in us will help us.
We must be prepared because the enemy is always prepared. One of the great blessings of this pandemic is that it has forced the Church to adapt and prepare itself for a new way of doing church. The enemy has been using the tools of media and social networking for years as a means to fight against us. There have been many ministries who have realized this and they have been far ahead of the curve in serving through this pandemic. However, now we have all been pushed into fighting back with the very same tools and weapons that the enemy has used for such a long time. I hate to say it but the old way of Church is probably over and the new way is here to stay. Therefore, prepare yourself church for more of what is to come. Our approach may now have changed but the message remains the same. Same message just a different means of sharing.
In two weeks, we will celebrate the day that the fire fell from heaven upon the earth and He began to dwell with us and in us. He prepares us to face our enemy and no weapon fashioned against Him will stand. As we prepare it will be well with our souls. It is my hope that you will not allow the fear of the enemy stop you. That you will not allow the fear of this plague stop you. This war against the enemy is not over until Christ returns. There will be more attacks like this plague and the question is, will you be prepared for more?