Formations Lesson for May 16- Share Your Faith
May 4 2010 by Ed Beddingfield, pastor, First Baptist Church, Fayetteville

Focal Passage: 1 Peter 3:13-4:6

In the city where I attended divinity school a certain man preached regularly on a busy downtown street corner. He didn’t have a pulpit: he paced. He didn’t have a microphone: he yelled. His words were as hostile as his tone.

He held his oversized Bible open in his left hand, the pages flapping in the breeze.

The extended index finger of his right hand pointed sometimes at the text, sometimes at the sky, often at us.

People scurried by with their heads down, gazing at their feet. Most gave him a wide berth. Nobody stopped to listen, not even me.

Why not? Maybe we were disinterested at best, pagans at worst. Besides, he was way too angry.

Mainly, though, it’s that he was talking at us, not to us, and certainly not with us.

And what about the lady who rings my doorbell on Saturday morning, wanting to give me a two-minute presentation of her version of the gospel? Does she really think she can change my mind — and capture my heart — when she doesn’t even know my name? When she doesn’t have a clue what’s going on in my life?

Peter has a better idea: “Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (3:15).

For someone to “call you to account” means that they’ve seen enough of you, and the way you live, to ask questions. Sharing the faith starts with living the life.

“With gentleness and reverence” means that you’ve seen enough of them to treat them kindly and respectfully — to know them, to understand them, even to care for them. Evangelism isn’t just about talking. It’s also about listening.

You have to earn the right to speak. 

Our lesson mentions two contexts: those who persecute us (3:13-18) and those we used to run wild with (4:3-4).

Negative examples, to be sure, but at least we know something about each other. Real faith isn’t communicated in a vacuum. It takes a relationship.

Don’t get sidetracked by the hard questions in the text: the “spirits in prison” and the “days of Noah” (3:19-20), and whether baptism really “saves you” (3:21).

If we’re not careful, they’ll just distract us from the main issue:

Is my faith revealed in the way I live?

Is it a positive influence on those around me?

If someone asks about it, do I have an answer?     
5/4/2010 3:41:00 AM by Ed Beddingfield, pastor, First Baptist Church, Fayetteville | with 0 comments

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